SBS Lets You Switch From Live TV To Catch-Up Seamlessly With HbbTV

If you buy a new TV this year, you're in for a treat: SBS is the first free-to-air broadcaster to support the new HbbTV Web-enabled TV standard, letting you view On Demand video seamlessly with digital TV.

HbbTV is different to the Smart TV features that most TVs in 2014 come with. It works by overlaying a Web browser window transparently on top of the digital TV broadcast stream you're watching, giving you access to streaming video and online content while you're still viewing regular TV programs. TVs that are HbbTV-enabled can still have Smart features; it's just an additional platform for accessing the Web, but one that is integrated perfectly with live digital TV.

With a new, HbbTV-enabled television — Panasonic has half a dozen TVs on sale already that support the standard, and other manufacturers like Sony, Samsung and LG are adding support via firmware update in the coming weeks and months — accessing SBS's HbbTV service is simple: when you're watching SBS One, SBS 2 or NITV, press the red button on your TV's remote control and the SBS On Demand live home screen comes up.

As it stands, you have to have three things to access SBS On Demand through HbbTV: you have to have a relatively new TV (search for 'HbbTV' in your TV's manual or online specifications, at least), you have to have that TV hooked up to an antenna and receiving digital TV, and you have to be connected to the Internet.

SBS's HbbTV platform lets viewers access any of the network's catch-up video, and since HbbTV is essentially a live Web page the broadcaster can change the contents of the home screen or sub-menus as it likes; at the moment FIFA World Cup matches and highlights are prominent, but that will change when the competition is over and SBS wants to promote other videos. Since the HbbTV version of On Demand is simply loading a Web page in the background of the live digital TV broadcast, it's fast. It's also quick — only requiring one button-press to access, instead of the half-dozen presses needed to launch an app on any Smart TV platform.

SBS On Demand, the broadcaster's online video repository from which the HbbTV showing draws, is one of the best in Australia — it's available on more devices than any other network's catch-up service, and has a huge amount of archival and catch-up video, with over six million videos watched per month. In a month or two, when the service officially launches, SBS's new On Demand platform on HbbTV will become part of the FreeviewPlus standard, — but until then, the Special Broadcasting Service is the first and only network to have a HbbTV video service on new TVs sold in Australia. [SBS]

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    SBS has always been on the cutting edge so this doesn't surprise me, and good on 'em for jumping in first... Now if someone can explain what "FreeviewPlus" is, and how it's different to "Freeview", I'd be grateful... :)

      I'm pretty sure FreeviewPlus is the combo of HBBTV with a new guide coming this year.

    Any word on STB/PVR that will be supporting this? Wouldn't mind a new 3-4 tuner and this looks pretty appealing.

      They're on their way, and some are already out (Humax, Panasonic, and so on). I'll let you know as soon as one is out, because I'm looking for one for myself.

        Is that the Humax 4-tune by chance? Was pretty much tossing between the 4-tune and Fetch TV.

        Last edited 23/06/14 9:39 am

      Just recently bought the Beyonwiz T3 which is supposed to support HbbTV without all the restrictions of "freeview"... It's still a work in progress mind, but you might want to check it out. Atm it's more of a buyer beta tester deal, but it has three dual tuners plus it can accept a USB receiver (Very flakey atm). I don't mind the Beta testing as it were, but you will need to keep 'yer old machine running 'till it's a bit more stable. The possibilities are very good for this one though... :)

        Do you have any idea how good the DLNA support is for streaming content from a media server (Plex or XBMC) to the Beyonwiz? Apparently some DVRs (humax) have trouble playing anything other than AVIs.

        Edit: Just saw on the product page that it says there is a plex specific app but couldn't find much more info.

        Last edited 23/06/14 10:58 am

          Apps are a work in progress, but I can stream from my NAS no probs... Having said that, if you want perfection out of the box, you may be disappointed. If you're willing to wait out the Firmware upgrade process, I think it will be worthwhile in the long run.. :)

        Thanks for the info on the T3. I have an old Beyonwiz DP-P1 which has been a reliable STB, but it's definitely showing it's age. Think the T3 will be my next upgrade.

        I wonder what will become of services like IceTV if the horribly-named "HbbTV" EPG becomes the norm? I've noticed IceTV have branched out into selling Beyonwiz boxes themselves, but I doubt that is a sustainable business in the long term.

          HBBTV is an open standard, the freeview expanded guide (which will most likely link into this stuff, but is still only 7 days) is the only part locked down.

          They just recently managed to get IceTV signed up after a bit of a kerfuffle, so it will be available in the next few months.. hopefully... :)

    I hope add-ons for this emerges for XBMC.

    I'm one of those types that rather connect all the TVs to an antenna, I set up a server with TVHeadend and a couple of tuner cards to act as a central receiver and PVR.

    From there, I use either a browser or a Raspberry Pi with RaspBMC to watch Live TV.

    Last edited 23/06/14 11:54 am

    I wish SBS would update their PS3 app, it's horrible the way it works now, being nothing more than a glorified webpage, which is impossible to use with any kind of remote control. Not all of us have TV's made post 2013, these add on consoles and devices are great ways to add this kind of functionality to otherwise working TVs, just a little older.

      Good luck, given ABC and 7 both have crappy webpages for the PS3. Not sure if Sony fixed this by disallowing web wrappers for the PS4, but both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One have actual apps.

      Cameron, we're updating the PS3 app as we speak so fingers crossed we'll have it out in July/August.

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