CES 2011

CES To Be Mobile DTV’s Coming Out Party

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.

By the end of this year, American consumers will be able to enjoy broadcasting’s mobile DTV service in all the major TV markets.

As executive director of the Open Mobile Video Coalition, the industry group dedicated to promoting mobile DTV, Anne Schelle believes in it and this week she will be doing her best to convince the rest of the consumer electronics world at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to believe it, too.

“You are going to see the true launch of the service,” she said yesterday on her way to the airport and a flight to Vegas.

As part of the proselytizing, OMVC will sponsor the mobile DTV Tech Zone during the annual convention, explaining the technology and showing the growing number of mobile devices equipped to receive the mobile DTV signals.

The OMVC will release more encouraging results from its consumer trial on mobile DTV service. And it will open up its ranks to non-broadcasters — device manufacturers, app developers, content providers and others hoping to exploit the new platform. The charter members of the OMVC Mobile DTV Forum: LG Electronics, Samsung, Dell and Harris.

“There are huge opportunities to develop for this platform,” said Schelle. “You’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg on what can be done. We want to take this service to the 2.0 level.”

BRAND CONNECTIONS

The OMVC will not alone in Vegas. 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.

Indeed, it was MCV, comprising NBC, Fox and 10 other major station groups, that promised in November to provide at least two free, ad-supported channels of mobile DTV programming in at least 20 major markets this year.

At that time, MCV stopped short of saying exactly what the two channels would be. Most mobile DTV watchers believe they will be simulcasts of the conventional broadcasts of the O&Os and affiliates of NBC and Fox, assuming that the networks and stations can get the necessary copyright clearances.

Schelle said that the important thing is that it is free. “By offering a free level of programming, you are going to be enhancing the uptake of service.”

The MCV is expected to work with the Mobile 500 Alliance, comprising smaller station groups led by the likes of Fisher Communications and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, to insure that the service is available in most of the country. Many of the members of MCV and the Mobile500 are also members of the OMVC.

One of the hurdles that the OMVC and other mobile DTV proponents have to overcome is the major wireless carriers’ resistance to allowing mobile DTV receive chips in the millions of phones and other devices that they subsidize.

However, Schelle believes smaller carriers may embrace the technology in an effort to gain a marketplace edge. Also, she said, even the large carriers may discover that they cannot handle the demand of live broadcast video. “There is consumer demand for it; the question is, how do you deliver that?”

The OMVC consumer trial ran between May and October and involved nine stations, 23 channels of programming and nearly 350 consumers equipped with receive devices, including a smartphone, a Dell netbook and a portable DVD player. Rentrak tabulated the feedback from the participants.

Among the findings, according to OMVC:

Strong Consumer Interest: The majority of participants maintained a high level of excitement about mobile DTV and were interested in continuing to receive the service. While free over-the-air service was a major positive with viewers, nearly half also said they would be at least “somewhat likely” to subscribe to premium services for a monthly fee.

Live, Local News Ranks Highly: Participants found themselves tuning into their battery-powered mobile DTV devices when storms knocked out power to their home TVs or when breaking news unfolded while they were on the go. Local stations were considered essential to the viewing experience, but participants also liked having a variety of programming. More than 30 different program genres were viewed on the 23 available channels.

Daytime is Primetime: Unlike traditional TV viewing, which is tethered to the living room TV, mobile DTV viewing tends to peak during the weekday afternoon when consumers can watch programs while on a break from work or while waiting in line at the supermarket.

Mobile DTV Means More TV: The research suggests that mobile DTV will result in a net gain in overall TV consumption — 94% reported watching more or the same amount of TV as before.

The average daily viewer spent 50 minutes watching mobile DTV and tuned in more than twice during the day. In fact, over a quarter of the people watching on a typical day spent more than an hour viewing their mobile DTV device.

The CES Mobile DTV Tech Zone will feature a variety of receive devices from a variety of manufacturers, including Winegard (DVD player with 10.2-inch screen), Cydle (Wi-Fi enabled tablet), DTVinteractive (USB dongle), iMovee Mobeo (pocket Wi-Fi receiver), LG Mobile (DVD player with 7-inch screen), Pixtree (USB dongle), Hauppauge (USB dongle), Coby (USB dongle) and Valups (30-in Apple connector for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

In addition, new mobile DTV products will be on display at other exhibitors including RCA, Vizio, Siano, Audiovox and Enspert.


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