Connected TV is the term generally used by the television industry to describe a product or service that combines ‘traditional’ broadcast digital television with new services, applications and programming such as Catch-up TV and Video on Demand (VoD) delivered via broadband. It is also known as Smart TV or Hybrid TV.
To watch Connected TV you will need a connected device; either a television or a set-top box with an Ethernet port in the back and at least one tuner for receiving broadcast TV signals. Connected TV is available on digital terrestrial, cable and satellite.
Connected TV in its most basic form provides catch-up TV programming streamed through the internet to the television in your living room. An example of this is the BBC iPlayer on Freeview HD and Freesat.
More advanced Connected TV services such as Google TV or LG Smart TV make additional programmes available over the internet for you to watch ‘on demand’. These services include both pay and free VoD.
In the UK, Virgin Media has collaborated with TiVo to provide both on-demand programmes and catch up TV via broadband—viewers can search for any programme and can also receive additional information about the show. Sky's Connected TV service Sky Player has launched on a range of TV's and set-top boxes as well as the PC, Mac, Windows Media Centre, XBox 360 and Fetch TV. This has recently been combined with Sky Mobile as Sky Go and provides Sky customers with access to most Sky channels as well as video on demand.
Some people may have heard of a new Connected TV service called YouView. YouView is a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Talk Talk, Arqiva and BT that combines Freeview channels, with the last seven days' catch-up TV, and on demand and pay TV content such as movies or sport events all in one set-top box. YouView is scheduled to launch in the UK in Spring 2012.
Connected TV services can be accessed via a number of ways depending on the product and whether you have a terrestrial, cable or satellite provider: these include pressing the red button, opening an app on the TV menu, typing the programme name into a search bar or going backwards in time on the electronic programme guide.
Most major manufacturers have released or are planning the release of Connected TV products in the UK market.
In March 2011 the DTG published the seventh edition of the detailed technical specification for UK digital terrestrial television: the D-Book. D-Book 7 contains the technical specification for Freeview (SD and HD) and Connected TV products and services. This provides manufacturers and service providers such as Sky, Virgin Media and YouView with a core Connected TV specification on which to build their own products and services upon. Following the publication of D-Book 7, the DTG's test centre DTG Testing is currently developing a test and conformance regime for Connected TV to ensure that products and services released into the market are conformant with the DTG's baseline specification.