UK's Freesat goes on-demand with iPlayer app

Dig-satellite TV platform integrates BBC's popular on-demand service.
BBC, BBC iplayer, Freesat, IMPALA, ITV, MHEG-IC, News, Broadcast Business


The UK’s free-to-air digital satellite service Freesat has deployed the world’s first hybrid broadcast broadband MHEG Interaction Channel (MHEG-IC), providing users with access to the BBC’s hugely popular iPlayer catch-up TV offering.

MHEG-IC is designed 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 platform provides access to streamed on-demand video content in addition to traditional text and graphics, while providing the ability to support secure transactions.

IMPALA, the International MHEG Promotion Alliance, today welcomes the news of the beta release of the world’s first deployment of hybrid broadcast broadband MHEG Interaction Channel (MHEG-IC) by UK free-to-air satellite platform Freesat.

Freesat, which is owned by the BBC and ITV, will allow access to the highly successful BBC iPlayer catch-up TV service via the IP connection, supplementing its existing broadcast content.

Giri Valliappan, director of Market Development with IMPALA, the International MHEG Promotion Alliance, welcomed the development as an important milestone in the rollout of MHEG-IC technology.

“While there has been much discussion in the marketplace about other potential hybrid technologies, we are delighted that MHEG is the first to make this real-world breakthrough,” he said.

“The MHEG-IC has been designed to provide viewers with access to additional on-demand services without the broadcaster having to relinquish control, something that we believe to be tremendously important.”

The MHEG-IC uses a sophisticated ‘Hybrid File System’ that enables broadcasters to create common applications that can work on both IP-connected and unconnected receivers in a seamless manner.

The MHEG-IC allows the application to determine whether or not an IP connection is possible (i.e. the receiver is equipped with the appropriate hardware and software) and whether or not it is actually available.

The system enables decoding of MPEG-4 or MPEG-2 streams using the same hardware used for broadcast content.

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