Technology

OMVC Kicks Tires on Mobile DTV

NAB's Smith, Fox TV's Abernethy, Gannett's Lougee, others toast Washington D.C. trial at Newseum event 5/25/2010 12:25:44 PM Eastern

Related:
Mobile DTV's
Real World Test

Broadcasters Announce National Mobile DTV Joint
Venture

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) held a
tire-kicking party at the Newseum in Washington May 24 to celebrate the
mobile
DTV trial that kicked off in D.C. at the beginning of the month.

The word from coalition bigwigs was that mobile DTV could
be a business in 3-5 years. And it will need to be if it was ever going
to be a
businesss, said one top broadcast exec with a vested interest in the new
technology.

The buzz during the reception was that there was movement
toward some kind of big announcement during the four-month test of the
service
in the No. 9 DMA. National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon
Smith
told B&C that he would not be surprised
if a deal with a carrier was unveiled during the test period.

Sprint, for example, is participating through its Samsung
mobile device, the Moment, which has an imbedded DTV receiver chip, but
that is
still described as only a test.

So far no wireless carriers have struck a deal to offer
mobile DTV, but one of the reasons for the test is to collect the kind
of data
on potential business models -- like who is watching, where, and for how
long
-- that will demonstrate the value of the service.

David Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting and one
of the members of the DTV joint venture unveiled at the NAB Show in
April, said
the trial was essentially a four-month measure of consumer behavior. He
gave a
shout-out to Sprint for being part of the test.

NAB's Smith called it a celebration of a new age in
broadcasting, one in which he suggested broadcasters' version of free,
over-the-air wireless video would need to grow side by side with
cellular
wireless video in the broadband ecosystem. He said it was part of the
industry's charter to use spectrum in the most efficient way possible.
Smith
has predicted that some 150 stations will be on the air with mobile DTV
by the
end of the year.

Gary Shapiro, CEO of coalition member Consumer
Electronics Association, was on hand as well. Smith and Shapiro have
butted
heads over the issue of spectrum, but Smith said that it was not a case
of
broadcasting vs. broadband, but of broadcasting and broadband.
Shapiro said that mobile will certainly be important
to broadcasting because video delivery needs to be an anywhere, anytime
medium.

Jack Abernethy, who heads up the Fox TV station group,
another mobile DTV joint venture partner, said he strongly agreed with
the
FCC's push for the "robust wireless availability of content." He
added that broadcasters' mobile DTV fit that bill, and that it was
"absolutely necessary" that it be a complement to the wireless phone
industry's one-to-one service, which he says will never be able to feed
the
voracious appetite for content driven by the iPhone and iPad and Droid
and
laptops.

Abernethy conceded that challenges remain, including
refining the technology, embedding the mobile-DTV chips in handsets and
cars, and
persuading distribution partners (like Sprint) to commit to the service.

The test comprises a cable-like lineup of broadcast TV
stations, radio stations and cable channels including Fox News Channel,
CNBC,
MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, E! and Food Network. At least for
thist test,
the cable content is also free, though behind a pretend pay wall that
simulates
the conditional access that would allow for both free and pay service.

March