The Smart TV Alliance, who had a goal to create a common standard for TV apps, and HbbTV Association, who has created HbbTV, will join forces after both have failed to gain traction.
Following disappointing uptake
In an announcement, the two associations each paint a picture of significant progress in their respective areas. They said that 58 million TVs can technically support apps built on the Smart TV Alliance specification and 30 million Smart TVs have support for HbbTV.
However, one thing is technical support, another is uptake. The reality is that neither of the two systems has resonated with developers or consumers in any significant way.
The Smart TV Alliance, founded by LG, TP Vision (Philips), Toshiba and Panasonic in 2011, has seen particularly poor uptake. Today, LG has switched to webOS, Panasonic to Firefox OS (developed by Mozilla), Toshiba’s TV division has been disintegrated, and Philips has adopted Android TV (developed by Google). Apps have to be developed separately for each operating system.
HbbTV has seen somewhat better adoption in Europe. Select TV broadcasters in Europe are using it to enable “Red button” services that allow the user to stream on-demand content from the archive by pressing the red button on the remote while watching a TV channel. Typically, you can only access this on-demand content over the internet if you receive broadcast channels via the built-in tuner. The HbbTV system has not been adopted in the US. HbbTV was developed by the established broadcast industry in an effort to counter TV apps.
Work will continue on HbbTV
Within the next year, the Smart TV Alliance’s work will be integrated into the HbbTV Association in an effort to “address the combined scope of broadcast and Over-The-Top Services” (referring to OTT streaming).
- “Through the incorporation of Smart TV Alliance’s activities, HbbTV will be able to address the combined scope of broadcast and Over-The-Top Services with a shared focus on delivering the HbbTV Specification that best meets the needs of these converging markets,” said Dr. Klaus Illgner, chairman of the HbbTV Association Steering Group.
Whether the two organizations will have more luck under the same flag remains to be seen. However, the industry appears to be far more enthusiastic about stand-alone TV operating systems such as Apple tvOS and Google Android TV.