Rob Hubbard, president of Hubbard Broadcasting, takes over for John Lawson as executive director of the mobile DTV consortium. News about the company has been relatively quiet since April when a merger with Dyle was publicly discussed. Hubbard says a merger with Dyle, the other mobile DTV consortium, isn’t on the horizon. ‘The technology we have is really the same so that there’s nothing except business relationship issues that prevent a consumer from seeing both services with the same device.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
The new solution supports the Mobile500 Alliance business model while helping broadcasters get on the air quickly.
Three of the group’s stations will participate in the Mobile Content Venture’s Dyle service and its KSTW Seattle is joining the Mobile500 Alliance.
Broadcaster-owned MCV and Mobile500 showed devices and apps that they say consumers may use to receive their broadcast-based mobile services later this year. But neither had a launch date or particulars about programming. Meanwhile, Syncbak demonstrated its authentication technology designed to give copyright holders comfort that the programming TV stations put on broadband networks will stay in their local markets.
The Open Mobile Video Coalition finds that while stations in 48 markets will be ready to go, tablets, smart phones and other personal devices capable of receiving the signals will be not be available until well into 2012. OMVC is working on the necessary guidelines so that samples can be built and shown to retailers at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
The group of broadcasters promoting mobile DTV is ramping up its plans for a service that will be compatible with whatever the other major mobile initiative, Mobile Content Venture, develops. Mobile500 planners are proposing a joint venture with broadcasters that will develop and market 15-20 channels, including five or six local free channels, 14 or 15 national pay channels and a “hybrid” VOD service using the wireless broadband network, but fully integrated with the broadcast service in a single user interface.
The country’s two leading proponents of the new technology, the Mobile500 Alliance and the Mobile Content Alliance, both reported considerable progress at this week’s NAB Show, enough to confirm their preliminary rollout plans for this year. And they discount talk that they are competitors: “We both use the same standards. We both want to deliver the content people want in the way they want to receive it,” says MCV’s Erik Moreno. Now it’s up to the cellular carriers to OK phones equipped with mobile DTV receiver chips.
The importance of tailoring mobile DTV business models to meet evolving consumer needs was one of the topics at Monday’s panel on the new medium and potential revenue stream for broadcasters. Others include lessons from more mature mobile markets overseas and updates from representatives of the Mobile Content Venture and the Mobile 500 Alliance.
As U.S. broadcasters prepare to launch mobile DTV services, they’ve learned important lessons from earlier, similar efforts overseas. First, it’s become clear that to succeed, a mobile service must include free content that consumers know and like at the time they expect it to be on. Then, it must also offer premium content, games and more.
The Mobile500 Alliance executive director says that TVNewsCheck’s Jan. 20 story on the Mobile500 Alliance’s “statement of principles” may have” created for some the impression of a level of discord between the Mobile500 Alliance and the Mobile Content Venture that doesn’t exist.”
The Mobile 500, concerned that other mobile DTV proponents may be working toward a closed platform, details in 12 points that it’s in the best interests of broadcasters, consumer electronics manufacturers and the public to avoid “any sort of proprietary technical barriers and rate structures that would make it prohibitive for some broadcasters to use the system,” according to Mobile500 Executive Director John Lawson.
The Mobile500 Alliance says it has rapidly expanded its membership since it first launched in September 2010. The group now represents broadcast companies that own 414 stations covering 92% of the U.S.
The announcement by the Mobile Content Venture that at least 40 NBC and Fox O&Os and affiliates will start broadcasting ad-supported mobile DTV service next year is the first step in moving broadcast TV into what promises to be a revolutionary and profitable future. Now what’s needed is for the networks to work out the copyright issues so that all stations can take all their network programing mobile. And perhaps now, the FCC will start to realize that there are more better ways to serve consumers and more efficient uses for TV spectrum than just handing it all over to broadband.
John Lawson, the former Ion exec, will lead the effort to promote mobile DTV that’s made up of 40 groups that operate more than 400 TV stations.