You must have met the so-called Red button, which sometimes appears on the TV screen and disappears again. But what is it, and how does it work? HbbTV stands for Hybrid Broadcasting and since 2010 is the standard of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute. It adds an interactive extension to the classic television broadcast.

What is HbbTV and How to Tune it: All about Hybrid Broadcasting

Hybrid broadcasting began in 2012 when it was launched by Czech Television on the occasion of the Ice Hockey Championship. The first commercial station was added Ocko, then Prima and Nova. The list of TVs has also its hybrid broadcasting and, for example, the UPC channel Regions + has been broadcasting from non-broadcasters.

HbbTV brings the extension of classical linear broadcasting to the viewer. Such modern teletext, or much simplified Internet. It is up to each TV station to decide exactly what content you get.

Four requirements for receiving HbbTV:

TV with HbbTV support (today practically all), with set-top boxes it is weaker
Receiving a signal from a source that broadcasts an HbbTV flag (typically DVB-T)
You are watching a TV station that broadcasts HbbTV (their list is below)

Your TV is connected to the Internet

Almost all today’s HbbTVs support, worse if you have an older model and a cheap set-top box. HbbTV has appeared on TVs since 2011 and you can find a list of supported models on the Czech Television or Prima websites .

You also need to receive terrestrial (DVB-T), satellite, or cable ( UPC ) signals . Some operators (typically IPTV ) do not transmit the HbbTV flag because they themselves offer similar (and better) features.

Also, don’t look for HbbTV on every channel. Hybrid broadcasts run only a few TVs (and not always on all of their stations). And finally, it is necessary to get internet on the TV. Preferably wired, but you can even over Wi-Fi. It is simply not possible without an Internet connection, but not everyone would have the idea of connecting a TV to it.

You will know that everything works well for you by switching to Czech Television, for example, and a big red button appears on the screen for a while , mostly at the bottom right.

When the red button is pressed, the TV data connection is activated in laymanship and, in addition to the passive reception of the TV broadcast, the HbbTV starts to receive the second (data) channel. Hence the name of the hybrid broadcast. On the screen you will see a menu prepared by the TV station operator, which you can control with the remote control. HbbTV can run as a pre-broadcast layer, completely overlay the broadcast, or leave it in a window like PIP.

Something between teletext and IPTV

Although HbbTV is a standard, it has been treated differently by different television companies. It’s their broadcast, so of course nothing prevents them. The common standard is only in the way of transmission and control via the red button on the remote control. For some stations, HbbTV means extending its content and offering a video archive…

For others rather another advertising channel . No wonder, HbbTV is not free for TV. In short, HbbTV in Czech Television programs is something completely different to the viewer than HbbTV in Nova.

HbbTV broadcasts the following nationwide stations:

Czech Television (since 2012, the first HbbTV in the Czech Republic)
Óčko (since 2014, the first commercial HbbTV in the Czech Republic)
Prima (from 2015 year)
Nova (from 2016 year)
TV List (started in 2016, before he even started his nationwide channel)

How to turn on HbbTV on Samsung TVs:

In general, for all brands of TVs (LG, Philips, Sony, Panasonic and others), HbbTV can be easily enabled or disabled in the setup menu. On Samsung TVs, you also need to download an additional application called HbbTV to enable reception. HbbTV, however, can be active only for all stations at the same time, for example, it can not receive from CT and others not. They can only be ignored – wait until the red button (sometimes with advertising) disappears from the screen.

You won’t take much advantage of HbbTV 2.0 in the Czech Republic

HbbTV has several standards, the current version is 2.0.0. The differences are more technical, such as support for HTML5 standards, the ability to play videos in high definition and HDR (this is not in our country) and the HEVC codec, the ability to broadcast via HbbTV second audio track (it also does not, even could). The viewer simply does not have to deal with the version of HbbTV on their TV.

What do individual HbbTVs offer?

Czech Television has a hybrid broadcast without ads. It offers access to its iV Broadcast archive (with programs for children in a special section), a more modern form of teletext (superteletext), EPGs of its stations, sports events specials, nebulvary news, snow reports and webcams from mountain resorts CT24 (option to turn it on another channel) and children’s quizzes.

Ocko had HbbTV as the second station in the Czech Republic. It provides access to its other Express and Star channels in the form of an HbbTV application and is full of advertisements. The only useful element for me is subjectively the fireplace.

Prima now has a brand new interface and can do a lot. HbbTV Primy includes many full episodes of custom shows, browsing by category and even access to movies and fairy tales. Some require iPrima sign-in and allow ad-free tracking with a paid account. Prima offers a daily subscription to O2 TV and its sports channels. There is also a CineStar cinema program. There are EPG’s own stations and weather. Prima’s hybrid broadcasts are already so extensive that I sometimes get lost.

Nova has only simple HbbTV. It contains tabloid news from TN.cz, EPG of its stations, weather and short videos of its shows. There is no access to the archive, but I also haven’t found more ads. Nova does not offer much via HbbTV, only short examples of endless series like Ordinace and Ulice.

The TV List offers access to its Stream program archive via HbbTV. While browsing, you can still see the current broadcast in a small window.

Hybrid broadcasting is not for everyone

HbbTV in the Czech Republic is estimated by Prima to use up to two million viewers per month. For demanding users, however, hybrid broadcasting is not much. The control is still a bit clunky and the transition between classical and data broadcasting is far from “seamless”. Each HbbTV contains more applications and after running one, it is sometimes not possible to go back other than turning off HbbTV and restarting. It is also a problem for CT, but in general it is gradually improving in new versions.

Is HbbTV unnecessary?

Information and messages are easier to access on your smartphone or tablet. You can get videos (iS cast, Playlist or Prima archive) on your big screen from your mobile via Chromecast, if they’re online. HbbTV has the limitations of its development in that it is free and the operator feeds it from advertising or license fees.

However, in a less digital home, for example, for older users, access to HbbTV may be useful. Czech Television, Seznam TV and Prima offer quality content, but it is much weaker for Nova and Ocko. Hybrid broadcasts have also been tested (or tested) by Šlágr and Barrandov, but I am returning to the previous subtitle.

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