The underlying system and standards that are used to provide a particular digital television service
The term platform may be used generically to refer to a type of transmission, for instance satellite, terrestrial or cable.
More specifically, the platform refers to the combination of standards that provide the operating environment for the specific service. This may include the transmission system, standards and protocols used to deliver the service.
In the case of interactive services, the platform determines the technical environment for an interactive application. The platform specifies an Application Programming Interface or API that provides functions or conventions by which the application accesses lower-level services. These are generally implemented in middleware that may be specific to the platform or the set-top box.
A proprietary platform may be specified by an operator that supplies the set-top box, as in the case of some subscription services. In this case the platform is said to be vertically integrated.
An open platform is based on published open standards enabling any manufacturer to provide a compatible set-top box. In this case the market for such devices is said to be horizontal.
Examples of proprietary interactive platforms include OpenTV, PowerTV, MediaHighway or Liberate.
Examples of open interactive platforms include MHP and MHEG.