The late November announcement - featured on the BBC’s Internet Blog – that the BBC Red Button Homepage has been redesigned to improve access to MHEG-IC connected TV services on Freesat has been welcomed by IMPALA, the International MHEG Promotion Alliance.
Freesat, the joint venture free-to-air satellite service by ITV and the BBC which now has more than 1.5 million customers, was the first platform in the world to deploy the connected TV MHEG Interaction Channel (MHEG-IC) that allows the delivery of hybrid broadcast/broadband services. The BBC iPlayer has been available on Freesat receivers for almost a year and the vast majority of Freesat HD receivers are MHEG-IC equipped.
The BBC has changed the Red Button Home Page to include an On Now tab as well as an index for all Freesat content. The blog says, “We wanted to offer more of these (on-demand IP-based) services to Freesat users but first we had to provide a gateway, hence we redesigned the Red Button Home Page.”
David Cutts, MD of S&T and founder member of IMPALA, says, “This redesign of the BBC front end to encourage viewer usage and to allow access to more on-demand video content is meeting consumer expectations. We welcome this initiative by the BBC to encourage the use of IP-delivered services on Freesat and we believe that this will consolidate the capabilities of the MHEG-IC.”
2010 has been a strong year for MHEG and its connected TV variant the MHEG Interaction Channel. As well as its deployment by Freesat and its anticipated 2011 rollout by the UK DTT Freeview HD platform, it also features in the specifications for the much-discussed YouView platform.
“With the MHEG-IC being mandated in Freesat HD boxes as well as Freeview HD receivers, and its inclusion within YouView, the number of MHEG-IC-equipped receivers in the UK market – backed by very strong manufacturer support - is set to grow rapidly through 2011. This will provide a huge installed base and potential audience. While we are very much at the early stages of hybrid service take-up it is clear that this is a step-change for the industry,” concludes Cutts.
The MHEG-IC has also been specified in both the Australian and New Zealand MHEG country profiles.
The founder members of IMPALA are Strategy & Technology (S&T), Cabot Communications and Echostar Europe.