BBC iPlayer Launches On Freeview HD Via MHEG-IC Connected TV Technology

Thursday, April 7th, 2011 
Freeview logo

LONDON — IMPALA, the International MHEG Promotion Alliance, has welcomed the launch of the BBC iPlayer on UK DTT service Freeview HD. The hugely popular catch-up TV service debut on the platform has been made possible by the deployment of the connected TV variant of MHEG – the MHEG Interaction Channel (MHEG-IC).

In a statement on the BBC Online Blog, Gideon Summerfield, Product Manager TV iPlayer, said, “Last week we…made an important release for Freeview HD. We can now offer BBC iPlayer to new connected TVs and set-top box receivers that conform to the latest Freeview HD specification, known as D-Book 6.2.1. This standard version of our application relies on MHEG-5, the same technology that powers BBC iPlayer on Freesat HD boxes, and the technology long used to deliver Red Button services on Freeview and Freesat.”

The first product that’s able to access the service is a new Freeview+ HD PVR from Sony, with other manufacturers expected to follow shortly. The DTG, responsible for the development and testing of D-Book 6.2.1, recently held an interoperability day to push the standard forwards along with its members.

The principles behind the MHEG-IC are to provide a seamless viewer experience of broadcast-delivered content augmented with content delivered over IP as an extension of the channel or network. The MHEG-IC gives access to streamed on-demand video content in addition to traditional text and graphics as well as the ability to support secure transactions.

Matt Whitfield, General Manager, Applications and Hybrid Technologies with IMPALA founder member S&T, says, “This is a very significant step for Freeview HD as a platform and is vindication of all the hard work that has gone into the development of D-Book 6.2.1 – work that still continues – and the MHEG-IC. Catch-up TV services delivered to the TV rather than the PC are a true game-changer for any platform.”

As of April 1, 2011, all new Freeview HD receiver products must include MHEG-IC. Freeview NZ is also working towards its deployment.