Freeview Play spec adds HEVC and Ultra HD via broadband

Friday, September 23rd, 2016 
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Freeview Play Update Paves Way For New Services

  • Support for new technologies including HEVC and Ultra HD via broadband

Digital UK has today published an updated technical specification for Freeview Play, setting out new features and requirements for products developed during 2017.

Freeview Play combines live television with catch-up TV and on-demand services from the BBC, ITV, STV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and UKTV, making it easy for viewers to watch what they want, when they want. The service is free from subscription and works with all existing broadband providers. Viewers can scroll back to access catch-up programmes in the TV guide or explore the range of programmes available via dedicated apps.

Digital UK leads on development of the hybrid TV platform, the first in the world to include features defined in the new HbbTV 2.0.1 standard for internet services and applications – building on version 8 of the DTG’s D-Book specification for broadcasting.

Key features in the updated specification include:

  • Mandatory support for the decoding of HEVC for programmes delivered via broadband(1)
  • Optional support for Ultra HD and HDR content via broadband(2)
  • Enhanced subtitling in on-demand programmes using the EBU-TT-D standard(3)
  • Support for additional content protection technologies

Freeview Play products developed using the new 2017 specification will also include enhanced search functionality, allowing viewers to find their favourite shows across on-demand players.

James Jackson, Technology Director at Digital UK, said: ‘As more manufacturers and content providers join Freeview Play the platform is evolving for the future and embracing new technologies, including HEVC and the potential for Ultra HD via broadband. Publishing this specification on our website also makes it easier for new products to come to market and for Freeview to continue bringing viewers the best in broadcast and on-demand TV, free from subscription.’

Freeview Play is currently available in Panasonic, JVC and Finlux TVs, and is being rolled out across a number of LG televisions this year. Recorders from Panasonic and Humax allow viewers to add Freeview Play to their existing set. Products from Sharp, Manhattan and other leading manufacturers will follow.

1. HEVC decoding support will permit the more efficient delivery of internet TV services.
2. The addition of optional support of Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) represents an essential first step in enabling content providers to deliver programmes in this format to Freeview Play audiences in the future.
3. A new technical format for the distribution of subtitles designed by the European Broadcasting Union.