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.
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.
It’s looking like it will be at least another year before TV stations will be able to offer over-the-air programming to smartphones, tablets and netbooks. Much progress has been made, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. But broadcasters don’t have all the time in the world. They are in a competition with broadband. If broadcasters drag this out too long, the broadband carriers will come up with their own “broadcast” solution and broadcasters won’t get their chance.
The prediction by the Open Mobile Video Coalition that mobile DTV will reach more than 71 million households — or 61% of all viewers in America — in the next 12 months comes as the group, along with ATSC and NAB, prepare to open the doors on the Mobile DTV Pavilion at next week’s NAB Show in Las Vegas. The Pavilion will highlight new consumer products, applications and services along with technology demonstrations from major equipment providers.
The Open Mobile Video Coalition has selected the UltraViolet digital rights locker maintained by Neustar, which provides a buy-once, play anywhere scheme for end users. One of the main reasons mobile DTV proponents say it will thrive in a crowded market is free access, but the business model is shaping up to provide for at least some level of pay service.Ã¯Â»Â¿
The Open Mobile Video Coalition, led by Anne Schelle (left), will highlight mobile DTV tech during the annual convention in Las Vegas this week, explaining the technology and displaying the growing number of devices equipped to receive mobile DTV. It will release more encouraging results from its recent consumer trial, and it will open up its ranks to non-broadcasters — device manufacturers, app developers, content providers and others hoping to exploit the new platform. Backing it up will be representatives of two consortia of broadcasters — the Mobile Content Venture and the Mobile500 Alliance — committed to bringing the mobile DTV services to market this year.
In an ambitious series of tests organized by the Open Mobile Video Coalition, consumers equipped with special cell phones and portable personal computers capable of receiving over-the-air broadcast TV signals are yielding encouraging results, especially in terms of advertising exposure and recall.