European culture is rich and complex, and the continent’s art embodies that. Franco-German TV channel ARTE, dedicated to presenting both traditional and modern cultural programming from across the creative spectrum, has quite a job on its hands. Its output must speak in different languages, while capturing the breadth of experience a sophisticated audience demands.
To meet those audience demands, ARTE is quickly adopting new video and audio technologies, as well as embracing the possibilities the internet offers broadcasters. One such advancement is ARTE enabling a pilot of its next-generation HbbTV platform with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos via Next Generation Audio Dolby AC-4 – three key developments that bring unrivalled flexibility, quality, and choice to programme makers, and a new consistency of experience to consumers.
HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) is a European standard that incorporates broadcast content with interactive services such as electronic programme guides and choice of audio tracks. Most smart TV models from major brands now support it; ARTE’s platform enables broader access and enriched interactive content using a new service based on the latest approved 2.0.2 HbbTV standard, supporting UHD in HDR as well as next generation audio.
Viewers will be able to access TV content in Dolby Atmos – via Dolby AC-4 – and Dolby Vision, for immersive viewing. This suite of experience-enhancing technologies is becoming more widely adopted by broadcasters and streaming services, and is praised by programme makers for delivering a more cinematic feel to dramas and documentaries. Channel owners also like the capability to include multiple language and subtitle options, as well as a choice of viewpoint and many accessibility enhancements.
HbbTV brings the flexibility of internet streaming services to broadcasters without impacting their existing distribution chains. As a standard, it removes the need for custom apps for different platforms, reducing development costs and increasing user acceptance by ensuring commonality without impacting flexibility or content quality. It allows consumers to make full use of HDR and Dolby Atmos capabilities already in many mainstream televisions – or other devices – and opens up the ability of Next Generation Audio Dolby AC-4 to bring exceptional spatial soundscapes and a plethora of choices to producers and consumers alike.
ARTE’s pilot platform supports a range of content format options, making it suitable for a wide viewership. It provides a range of reception options from top-of-the-line TVs and older sets. Formats available include Dolby Vision HDR (HEVC), HDR10 (HEVC), SDR (HEVC), Dolby Atmos (via Dolby AC-4), 5.1 (Dolby Digital Plus) and traditional – but still very popular – stereo.
Device makers and service operators can expect ARTE’s pilot platform to meet viewer expectations for modern, internet-connected viewing. In particular, advanced user interface designs and consistent, device-optimised playback on compatible smart TVs will make the experience of consuming content more satisfying.
Viewers in Germany can launch the pilot platform when watching via the Astra satellite service, while French audiences can use Fransat and Eutetsat’s Hot Bird 13°. Both countries will also carry it on DTTV. Many programmes are already available, such as those from German production house MedienKontor (GEO Reports: Nepal – In the Realm of Sounding Bowls; GEO Reports: The Neon Designers of Hong Kong) or by ZDF/ARTE (The Greatest Race).
With content creators, channel aggregators, distribution systems, set makers, and viewers now set up for the highest possible quality of programming on the most advanced interactive platforms, the future of television is now visible with exceptional clarity.