Digital terrestrial: how to watch more channels for free

There is a way to watch free channels and additional content that works on most TVs via digital terrestrial but that almost no one uses: what is it, what does it offer and how does HBBTV work?

Today all TVs on the market, with very rare exceptions in the case of very cheap TVs, are "smart": just connect them to the Internet, via cable or via WiFi, download our favorite apps and access thousands and thousands of contents from platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video. All of them are paid platforms, requiring a monthly or yearly subscription to work.

But, actually, there is also a "free" side of "smart" technologies, which almost no one takes advantage of even though almost everyone has it available. We are talking about the HBBTV technology, that is "Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV", or to put it simply "hybrid TV". Hybrid because HBBTV is a technology linked to digital terrestrial, that is to radio waves, but works via the Internet. Through HBBTV you can access dozens of channels, some additional to those already broadcast on digital terrestrial, but also individual content on demand, just like we do with streaming apps.

How does HBBTV work

To make it extremely simple (and simplified, forgive us those who are more tencic) HBBTV works through apps that are launched by pressing a button on the remote control while we watch a normal program on digital terrestrial. To be more precise, however, it should be added that HBBTV is also available on the satellite platform Tivùsat and not only on the DTT.

Usually, a DTT channel communicates to the user the possibility of enjoying HBBTV content by showing a colored "dot" or an icon in a corner of the screen: it is then sufficient to press the appropriate button on the remote control to open the HBBTV app of that channel and see the additional content.

In some cases, once you are in the broadcaster's HBBTV app, there is the ability to use multiple buttons on the remote to perform multiple functions. In fact, HBBTV is also used to allow the user to interact with the broadcaster, for example to vote on a poll or put a "like".

Also via HBBTV, it is possible to choose and configure options to receive personalized advertising, which might be more interesting to watch than "generalist" advertising.

Behind the HBBTV standard is a consortium that brings together major European publishers and the world's largest manufacturers of Smart TVs and TV boxes, so almost all modern Smart TVs are equipped with this technology.

Members of the consortium are, for example, Hisense, Humax, LG, MediaTek, Novatek, Panasonic, Realtek, Roku, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TCL, and Vestel, just to name the most famous and best known TV manufacturers in Italy.

What you can see on HBBTV

The list of free HBBTV channels is very long, because many are the TV broadcasters that adopt this technology. Prendendo in considerazione solo l’HBBTV dei canali più visti in Italia, possiamo citare i contenuti disponibili ad esempio sull’HBBTV della RAI:

  • Rai Radio 2
  • Rai 4K
  • Rai Play
  • Rai TV+
  • Rai Play

Sull’HBBTV di Mediaset, invece, troviamo:

  • Radio Montecarlo TV
  • Contenuti on demand

Sull’HBBTV di Discovery Channel troviamo:

  • Nove HD
  • Real Time HD
  • Food Network HD
  • Giallo HD
  • K2
  • Frisbee
  • Home and Garden TV HD
  • Motor Trend HD
  • Investigation Discovery
  • Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Science
  • Animal Planet
  • BBC
  • Eurosport 1
  • Eurosport 2

Sull’HBBTV di SportItalia troviamo:

  • SI HD
  • SI Solo Calcio HD
  • SI Motori HD
  • SI Live 24 HD
  • Udinese TV
  • Radio Bianconera TV HD
  • Radio Nerazzurra TV HD
  • TMW Radio TV HD
  • Bike HD

Come avrete notato, l’HBBTV viene usato per trasmettere non solo canali e contenuti aggiuntivi video, ma anche radio. Sull’HBBTV di Radio Kiss Kiss, ad esempio, troviamo due canali aggiuntivi:

  • Kiss Kiss Discoparty
  • Kiss Kiss Party

Sull’HBBTV di Radio RDS Social TV, invece, ci sono diverse opzioni per interagire con l’emittente e ottenere contenuti on demand specifici: il meteo e le news, i videoclip delle canzoni, curiosità sugli artisti o sui brani. Insomma, per farla breve: l’HBBTV è un mondo ricco di canali gratis e contenuti aggiuntivi che aspetta solo di essere esplorato.

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