Less is more as HbbTV strips out unused features for latest release

Hybrid broadband-broadcast standards organisation the HbbTV Association has completed work on an update to its core specification, HbbTV 2.0.3. 

The update marks the first time that HbbTV has removed some features and is announcing the intention to remove others in the future.

What the body describes as ‘never-used’ parts of the media synchronisation, companion screen and CI Plus features have been removed as has been support for teletext subtitles in OTT content.

A full list of the features concerned can be found in the HbbTV 2.0.3 explainer on the HbbTV website.
Some existing HbbTV features will be updated in line with the changes in the market place, according to the association. The web standards included in HbbTV 2 will be updated from the original selection that was defined in 2013. Support for W3C Media Source extensions will be added. The MPEG DASH support will be extended to include CMAF.

The HbbTV Associations said that it believed many recent HbbTV devices already support these technologies. Also relating to MPEG DASH, applications will be able to query if an implementation supports the CBCS encryption mode originally used by Apple, but now becoming widespread in many DRM systems, and seen by many as the basis for common encryption of OTT streams.

“The HbbTV specification is now a mature specification, as it is now used to a large scale in many commercial real-life situations. With this maturity of deployment, the market has a better view of what is really important and what is not so important in the end. Keeping the specification ‘lean’ and focused on the important things is key to make it implementable in a reasonable manner by manufacturers and other market players. This does not mean that the specification is frozen or does not meet new use cases, as demonstrated for instance with our recently published Application Discovery over Broadband phase 2 (ADB2) and Targeted Advertising (HbbTV-TA) additions,” said Vincent Grivet, chairman of the HbbTV Association.

Jon Piesing, HbbTV vice-chairman and chairman of the specification group that spearheaded the specification development process, said: “Over the years, our core HbbTV 2 specification has accumulated a number of things that have never been used or which have been superseded. It’s now time to ‘spring clean’ our specification. Some things that we believe are not used will be removed in this update. Where things are used but superseded, we will send a clear message to the users of our specification that they need to plan a transition. While HbbTV does not aim at moving as fast as the web, equally it cannot keep adding technologies and features indefinitely without removing anything.”

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