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Slovak Telekom: “It is really impressive how many HbbTV devices have been deployed in the last two years”

Eugen Mikóczy, Slovak Telekom

Eugen Mikóczy, Slovak Telekom

Eugen Mikóczy, innovation expert at Slovak Telekom, discusses the pending launch of HbbTV in Slovakia, continued fragmentation of the smart TV market, and whether OTT services are going to make a big dent in the Slovakian TV market.

Eugen will be speaking at the OTTtv World Summit taking place in London on 19-22 November 2013. For more information and to register for the event, please visit http://ottworldsummit.com.

First of all, can you tell us a little more about your involvement in the HbbTV platform?

Slovak Telekom was the first hybrid satellite TV provider in Slovakia and we are providing several interactive applications over IP delivery since 2010, in addition to broadcast Magio satellite TV services.

HbbTV is still not yet deployed in Slovakia, but Slovak Telekom is following standardisation (for example we have been active in ETSI) and we are part of HBB-Next EU research project where next-generation HBB features are developed and prototyped.

Do you think the platform has worldwide relevance, and why?

I think that it is really impressive how many HbbTV devices have been deployed in the last two years, especially in Germany and France, and also how broadcasters have actively started to develop their own TV applications.

Other relevant aspect include Connected and Smart TVs that are now more popular and accessible in many households, as TV manufacturers add browsers and Smart TV capabilities to the broader portfolio of their TV sets. But we can still see a fragmented market, limiting us for serious mass market development and massive customer reach.

The main reason is probably that most of vendors have their own apps stores and different development tools, where several of them decided to used different proprietary flavours of HBB technologies to differentiate themselves instead of following standards and cooperating.

We can expect many more TV apps on the market with newer features of HbbTV like HTML-5 support and MPEG-DASH, multiscreen scenarios support, etc.

Do you think OTT services will make a big dent in the Slovakian broadcast industry?

I believe that over-the-top TV makes sense even though most customers will still use traditional pay-TV over via satellite, IPTV or cable. But OTT multiscreen features will become a must-have feature in the next few years for any provider aiming to provide a competitive premium pay-TV service, especially as it has become natural for pay-TV operators to enable users to watch their subscribed-for content anywhere that a Internet connection is available.

We have had a positive experience with our own OTT multiscreen service called ‘Magio GO’ which was successfully developed and launched by Slovak Telekom last year, just before the Olympic games, and we are reaching several thousand parallel streams during special sports events.

What needs to happen before they can achieve this?

When penetration of devices and technologies that suitable for OTT TV grows as expected in next few years, there will definitely be demand from a wider group of customers. That I believe will be the trigger for the industry to follow demand and create the next generation of TV services.

The question will be what are the right cooperation models, and what roles will traditional broadcasters, pay TV providers and OTT players play. But that is an open question for us to discuss at the next OTTtv World Summit.

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