In this new multiplatform world, there is no single place to go to fix the problem of loud ambient noise on movile DTV. While TV broadcasters, like other content distributors going over the top to reach smartphones and tablets, will benefit from various developments, work being done on a next-generation digital TV standard supporting everything from ultra-HD to small, mobile receivers is more promising. “Adapting loudness and dynamic range to suit the capabilities and limitations of varied devices and multiple listening environments is a must for the audio technology that is chosen for [ATSC] 3.0,” says ATSC’s Mark Richer.
The new managing director of the consortium of TV station groups that’s pushing mobile DTV has 20 years of media experience, with a focus on wireless. Her new focus is to make sure Pearl members keep pace with the proliferating ways that consumers are watching TV at home and on their mobile devices. She talks about how broadcasters can still make mobile a vital part of their business, why smart TVs are promising and Pearl’s shaper focus on developing a next-generation broadcast system through ATSC.
A panel session in Washington on Wednesday night broke down the ways broadcasters can make money off mobile DTV services, including TV Everywhere and subscription-based models. “We built a system and service that is compatible with multiple business models,” says Salil Davi, co-GM of Dyle.
The implentation guide, available for download from ATSC, provides a road map for broadcasters looking to launch a mobile EAS service in their market. M-EAS generates a banner alert on capable mobile devices. The system also aims to include rich media, like radar maps, charts and HTML pages.
A joint-venture of 12 major broadcast groups across 12 markets plan to launch a number of on-air, digital and live interactive events to promote Dyle’s mobile TV service and new Audiovox wireless receiver.
Six years ago, a handful of broadcasters began talking up the idea of using excess digital spectrum to broadcast programming to mobile devices. In 2010 NBC and Fox joined several TV station groups to form the Mobile Content Venture. But here we sit in the waning days of 2013 and mobile DTV is no closer to fulfilling its early promise than it was in 2010. It’s a lost cause. Broadcasters now need to throw their support behind ATSC 3.0, the new broadcast standard being developed that promises to deliver a signal so rugged that it can be picked up on mobile devices without the deal-breaking external antennas.
Dyle’s new mobile DTV receiver by Audiovox, in theory, is a great gadget. It untethers your device from a dongle and it’s now available on the popular Android platform. But it has its flaws. It’s awkward to setup and register your device, and the wireless capabilities aren’t that impressive. Don’t expect to place it in the middle of your house and have access to live TV on all of your devices in every room.
Next week, the company will announce a new product by Audiovox that doesn’t require users to plug a dongle into their smartphone or tablet. It’s expected to cost $99 and be available this year. The product includes a handheld-sized box with an antenna to pick up the mobile broadcast signal, and then wirelessly delvers that signal to a device using Dyle’s app.
A Silicon Valley-based company says it has developed technology that can broadcast the legacy ATSC signal to mobile devices without using data, and can be received in vehicles traveling at potential speeds of 65 mph. It’s looking at the Mobile500 Alliance and Dyle to help fund its business to come up with a working solution by year’s end.
“Gray Television was one of the very first broadcasters to launch mobile DTV service,” says Gray President-COO Bob Prather. “Over the past few months, Syncbak has proven that can provide another critical route to reach our local viewers. We are therefore excited to be able to improve our local products by adding all  of our stations to the Syncbak platform.”
Leaders from the two mobile DTV organizations candidly spoke this week at ATSC’s annual meeting about the possibility of a merger, saying the only difference between Dyle and the Mobile500 Alliance is a business philosophy.
News Corp. CEO Chase Carey’s declaration that it will turn its broadcast network and stations into cable channels if Aereo is not stopped sends a message — a warning really — that Aereo is a menace to the broadcasting business and to the millions of viewers who enjoy and rely on the over-the-air service. But there are other options for Fox in the fight against online pirates: live streaming and mobile DTV. Establishment of those services won’t leave much room in the marketplace for third parties waving another monthly bill in front of consumers.
There was lots of news around mobile DTV efforts this week at the NAB Show, including a possible merger of Dyle and the Mobile500 Alliance. Can mobile DTV be a success? Of course, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
The FCC Chairman says that for mobile DTV to thrive, broadcasters will need some of the broadband spectrum that his incentive auction will provide.
How much would it cost to build out a network to make all 750 or so broadcast stations transmit a mobile DTV signal? Maybe not as much as you think.
A Mobile500 Alliance member says he expects the two mobile DTV consortiums to come together soon.
Mobile500 Aliance VP of Technology Brian McHale says the service that takes over-the-air signals for free and streams them to users who pay $12 a month is motivation to propel mobile DTV efforts.
Noting that 25 more stations have said they will soon be offering a mobile DTV service, Smith told the crowd at today’s NAB Show opening session that broadcasters have an advantage in the mobile marketplace. “Our one-to-many architecture allows us to deliver a product where there is no streaming necessary, so there’s no signal congestion.” And he urged broadcasters to “rise up to meet consumers’ desire for more live, local TV content.”
WCBS New York, which is also working with Syncbak to stream its live signal, is also deploying a mobile DTV signal under the Dyle mobile TV environment.
Starting this weekend, broadcasters will be tempted with new ways of producing, managing, storing and airing programming with promises of better quality and greater efficiency. Prominent among those new ways will be cloud technology, mobile DTV and next-generation transmission standards.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, a founding member of the Mobile500 Alliance, is bringing mobile DTV to 12 stations across nine markets. The group’s Fox affiliates will also air in the Dyle mobile TV environment.
In February survey of station techs, more than 80% say are pessimistic or ambivalent about mobile DTV becoming a consumer success.
At the NAB Show, the Mobile500 Alliance will share hard data from its on-going soft launch, like how many people are watching, when are they watching and how long are they watching.
Elgato Systems, which makes adapters for receiving mobile DTV on tablets and smartphones, says unless more broadcasters air mobile DTV signals, it may rethink its involvement with the service.
With the final vote approaching to approve an ATSC standard for a mobile Emergency Alert System, many of the station groups who can vote to OK it have remained silent. According to a source close to the situation, companies that formally abstained from the last vote included ABC, Fox and the IEEE-BT Society. Belo, Cox, Gannett, Ion, Media General, Dispatch, NBC, CBS, Post-Newsweek and Samsung didn’t vote at all.
For the past few months, CBS has been using Syncbak to stream the signals of its duopolies in New York and Los Angeles to smartphones and other devices without requiring a dongle or antenna. Syncbak uses the GPS embedded in smartphone and tablets and another proprietary system to make sure that only users within a station’s market can receive the station’s programming.
At CES in Las Vegas last week, two companies were pushing gadgets that will convert an Apple Inc. iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch into a TV. Escort Inc., best known for automotive radar detectors, offers Escort Mobile TV, while Elgato Systems sells the EyeTV Mobile.
We just keep waiting for the widespread deployment of mobile DTV. What we need is for the broadcast networks to make a real commitment to the new technology. If mobile DTV were real, don’t you think Chase Carey, Les Moonves, Steve Burke and Bob Iger would be talking it up wherever and whenever they could? I have no evidence that any of those executives even know what mobile DTV is.
The Moblile 500 Alliance, with Fisher Communications and Hubbard Broadcasting, is distributing 750 receivers in each market for use with iPhones and iPads. Nielsen and Rentrak will evaluate the launch data and Lincoln and Chrysler are the inaugural advertisers.
During the beginning of this month, it became eminently clear to millions of Americans in the Northeast that at least one part of the future can’t come soon enough — mobile digital television. Mobile DTV doesn’t use mobile cellular service. It uses over-the-air TV signals only, formatted specifically for mobile devices — smartphones, tablets and laptops.What’s more, during events such as Hurricane Sandy, broadcasters weather the storm well. They never stopped broadcasting, even when absorbing a direct hit by a major hurricane. So viewers equipped with mobile DTV devices won’t lose their TV news lifeline.
The new solution supports the Mobile500 Alliance business model while helping broadcasters get on the air quickly.
Lawmakers, policymakers, broadcasters and consumer electronics vendors gathered in Washington on Thursday for an event marking the commercial launch of mobile DTV. The event, held in the Rayburn House Office Building, gave those in government a firsthand look at mobile phones, media table adapters, media players and portable sets capable of receiving mobile DTV while on the go.
Incorporating the broadcast-based service into smartphones and tablets at MCV and the Moble500 Alliance are trying to do would bring a number of revenue-generating benefits to everyone involved. Content producers and syndicators, advertisers, local stations and wireless networks all stand to profit.