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Joyn Integrates HbbTV on Android TV Devices

The German streaming platform Joyn has extended its offering of linear TV services on Android TV platforms with the support for HbbTV applications. This has been realised by integrating TARA’s Inaris HbbTV Solution for Android into the Joyn app. The HbbTV functionality of the Joyn app has been launched for Sony TV and Philips TV devices in 2021.

Streaming Services in Germany

Streaming Services are widely used in Germany. There are many options that provide access to a wide range of Video-On-Demand (VoD) content as well as access to live TV streams. Most services offer the live TV streams of the German public broadcasters. This is a great benefit for the users, as they can access live TV from many different devices simply by using the Internet.

HbbTV Unifies Linear TV and VoD

While streaming service providers are integrating the live TV streams into their applications, the broadcasters are doing it the other way around for their classic distribution channels, e.g. via satellite. The interactive TV standard HbbTV brings VoD and live streaming content to TV devices that receive their content via classic distribution channels. This allows broadcasters to offer a wide range of catch-up services with tight integration with the linear TV content.

German Streaming Platform Joyn Integrates HbbTV

Combining streaming services with HbbTV is the goal of the German streaming provider Joyn. Joyn is a streaming platform owned by ProSiebenSat.1 Media and Discovery. In addition to a rich offering of VoD content, Joyn provides freely accessible live streaming of the German public broadcasters in HD quality.

Live TV Services line-up in the Joyn Android TV app

In order to bring HbbTV into the streaming world, Joyn selected TARA Systems as their partner for this project. With the Inaris HbbTV Solution, TARA is offering a powerful and standard-compliant HbbTV client solution. This solution comes with specific extensions for the integration into streaming apps and thus is perfectly suited for this use case. The execution and rendering of the HbbTV apps are done inside a customised Chromium browser.

Integrating HbbTV for the ARD Services

In the common project, the live streaming services of the ARD group shall provide access to their HbbTV offering. The integration is targeted for Android TV devices, more specifically for Sony and Philips TVs. However, it is planned to also support other Android TV devices in a later www. The HbbTV feature will be made available via a regular update of the Joyn app and enabled for all users of the Joyn App on the targeted devices.

Challenges of HbbTV in Streaming Apps

When bringing HbbTV services to streaming apps as the one of Joyn, there are a number of challenges to solve. Basically, the integration of HbbTV into streaming apps differs in some parts from what is done for the classic broadcast distributions.

TARA Engineer working on the integration of the Inaris HbbTV Solution with the Joyn app

One major difference and challenge is the signalling of the HbbTV applications. A standard DVB signal, e.g. coming from a satellite, includes all the information to start and stop HbbTV applications. When using streaming services, this information has to be provided via the Internet. One solution for providing HbbTV signalling information via the Internet is the official HbbTV standard Application Discovery over Broadband (ADB). The Inaris HbbTV Solution supports this standard and uses suitable parts of it for the integration in the Joyn app.

A second challenge is the use of an HbbTV compliant browser that is optimised for the platform. The Inaris HbbTV Solution uses a custom build of Chromium where all necessary extensions for running HbbTV applications e.g. CE-HTML requirements are implemented. The big advantage of Chromium is the optimised porting of the browser to Android. This results in an exceptional good performance with at the same time a full standard compliant application environment for an optimal user experience within the HbbTV applications.

The third important challenge is the standard-compliant integration of the player of the linear TV signal delivered via IP with the HbbTV applications executed in the browser. For HbbTV applications, it is important that the live TV stream via IP behaves the same as a DVB broadcast signal. This explicitly applies for embedding the linear TV video stream into the HbbTV application. Our Inaris HbbTV Solution solves the positioning, scaling, and layering of the video inside the HbbTV application by a custom browser extension also for IP streams. This is essential for a best in class HbbTV integration.

Launch of HbbTV in the Joyn App

By the end of July 2021, Joyn started to ship their streaming app for Android TV with HbbTV support on Sony TV devices. In November 2021, HbbTV support was also added to the Joyn app on Philips TV devices. With this step, Joyn is the first German operator-independent streaming service enabling HbbTV applications for their users. The users of Joyn can now enjoy a smooth integration of the premium streaming offering and the advantages of a broadcast-related VoD offering with HbbTV. Furthermore, many broadcasters provide accessibility services such as customisable subtitles using the HbbTV technology which is now also available in the Joyn app.

The HbbTV offering of “Das Erste” available on a live stream of the Joyn app

About Joyn

Joyn is a cross-provider entertainment streaming platform. Joyn offers a comprehensive free service with numerous live TV channels, series, documentaries and films on demand, media libraries and sports content from ProSiebenSat.1, Discovery and other content partners, all bundled on one platform.

With the addition of HbbTV to our Android TV app, we can now offer a very attractive additional service to our users. The HbbTV implementation by TARA Systems has proven to be very powerful and flexible during integration. The support during the integration phase and the technical assistance from TARA Systems was a great speed advantage for our market launch.
Dominique Busser — Director of Engineering - Platforms
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