Case Study: Italy – the MHP pioneer

Italy has arguably been the country where MHP has been most successfully deployed. As of February 2008 about 5.6 million terrestrial MHP set-top boxes from a range of different manufacturers had been sold.

Early in 2004, following the launch in 2003 of the DVB-T network, the government began making available a subsidy towards the cost of MHP enabled set-top boxes, which had initially cost more than â¬200. The subsidy was first set at â¬150, falling to â¬70 in 2005. This fall in the level of the subsidy reflected the fact that STB prices fell very quickly, costing about â¬150 by the end of 2004. Over the past couple of years the cost of MHP STBs has fallen to around â¬70-â¬80. (Find some current prices here.)

DTTLab, the Italian Digital Terrestrial Television Laboratory, monitors and assesses the main interactive applications available on the national market. They list the following types of application:

  • Games
  • Information/Teletext
  • TV Guide
  • Public Announcements / T-Government
  • Interactive News
  • Telepromotions (Interactive advertising portals)
  • Entertainment

Multiple screenshots and more information about these various applications are available on the DTTLab website. Another very large collection of screenshots from the Italian market is available here:

MHP receivers in the Italian market all include the following: three CA (conditional access) systems, a CA API, a 56k modem, and smartcard support.

One of the most popular services offered on the terrestrial platform, enabled by MHP, is a pre-paid card based system for watching pay-per-view soccer matches. These cards can be recharged online, at newspaper kiosks, etc… In the first six months of 2007 more than 420,000 new re-chargeable cards and more than 2.5 million re-charges were sold for the Mediaset service. Revenues from these PPV activities in 2006 were in the region of â¬84 million for Mediaset and â¬10 million for Telecom Italia Media. (source AGCOM/Mediaset)

Revenue is also generated from interactive advertising, sponsored content accompanying programming and banners on information portals. Information (in Italian) on the prices charged for such advertising is available on the PubItalia site.

March 2008 saw the announcement from RAI, public service broadcaster, of the launch of a new service targeting teenagers with sitcoms, cartoons and music. RAI Quattro will also include MHP interactive services and â¬4 million in funding has been set aside for the first six months of the service.

The umbrella group for digital terrestrial TV in Italy is called the DGTVi. You can find the Italian D-book, which is the baseline specification for DVB-T and MHP receivers, on this page: