We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of the HbbTV Operator App (OpApp for short) spec and already we've seen the first service launch. In September, Tivùsat became the first operator to launch an OpApp – Tivùon. And soon we'll see other OpApps launch from operators in the 35 countries where HbbTV is deployed.
If you're not familiar with HbbTV Operator Apps, we thought now might be a good time to get you up to speed – you're going to hear the term often over the coming years. Here are a few of the most asked questions about HbbTV OpApps.
WHAT IS AN HBBTV OPAPP?
An Operator App creates an app that can run a virtual set-top box on devices that support the standard. When a new device connects to an operator's network, the device automatically finds the OpApp, and the viewer is offered to run the service. Immediately, the device has the look, feel, applications and features that you previously needed a physical set-top box to access.
WHY DO OPERATORS LIKE OPAPPS?
Operators spend billions on customer premises equipment, including set-top boxes. OpApps take that cost off of the balance sheet. Additionally, OpApps open new business models for operators around data and targeted advertising.
Perhaps the most valuable point is that operators can ensure their entire subscriber base has access to the same features and functionality across many vendors devices, without having to deploy expensive firmware updates.
Ultimately, OpApps can help lower both CapEx and churn.
WHAT DO CONSUMERS LIKE ABOUT OPAPPS?
With an OpApp, the customer will always have the latest experience rather than relying on the set-top box. This means the apps they expect, the content they demand, and an overall user experience that keeps up with the times.
Because an OpApp can reside on any connected TV device, consumers can avoid a set-top box entirely and use a TV that supports OpApp. Reducing one device also means fewer cords and remote controls cluttering the living room.
But let's say you want a set-top box. Rather than rent a box from the operator, an entire retail strategy opens up. Consumers can buy a set-top box that meets their needs and their budget. The only requirement is that it supports the OpApp standard.
HOW DOES AN OPAPP WORK?
OpApp is an open platform standard with a defined specification and is therefore interoperable and compliant across HbbTV OpApp-certified devices. The OpApp is owned and managed by the TV operator and gives full control over the functionality and user experience.
Because the user experience and functionality are unified across certified devices, it's easier for consumers to watch and discover content.
The OpApp can run immediately after the TV is turned on, depending on its configuration. To the user, the OpApp functions just like any other source on their TV, just like a cable input or an HDMI source. An OpApp can be used for any network type supported by a connected TV, including Satellite, Cable, Terrestrial, and IPTV.
WHAT FEATURES ARE SUPPORTED IN HBBTV OPAPPS?
Everything you might expect in a set-top box, including
- Channel zapping (+/-)
- Volume control (up/down)
- Live TV
- Program guide
- Mini program guide (overlay)
- Device menu
- Catchup / VOD
- DRM and Adaptive Bitrate Streaming(ABR) streaming
- And more...
HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE OPAPP LIFECYCLE?
Discovery and lifecycle management of the OpApp happens in various ways on the device, depending on the operator requirements. It can be launched, installed and updated either as a pre-installed package, from broadcast signaling using the Operator’s channel or be signaled over broadband.
HOW DO YOU SECURE AN OPAPP?
Operators sign and encrypt their apps, guaranteeing integrity and authenticity.
HOW DO YOU BUILD AN OPAPP?
HOW DO WE KNOW IF A DEVICE IS COMPATIBLE?
HbbTV has a robust certification process that ensures that devices are compatible with the standard.
HOW DOES VEWD FIT INTO ALL OF THIS?
Now for the obligatory plug. Vewd provides the key enabling software for OpApps through its Vewd Core Hybrid TV and OpApps modules which cover hybrid TV solutions and broadcast standards across the globe, including HbbTV, ATSC 3.0, Freeview Play, Freeview Plus, Freesat HD, TDT HÍBRIDA, TNT, and Tivusat
Vewd supports opApp through its module architecture using Vewd Core and its HbbTV application manager.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE?
Have a question we didn't address? Leave a comment with your burning HbbTV OpApp questions. We'll update this post as we hear from you.