Tag Archives: Mobile500

Mobile DTV And Its Many Business Models

Mobile DTV And Its Many Business Models

If mobile DTV ever proves to be a consumer success, broadcasters will be able to use multiple business models to make money off the service.

A panel session in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, hosted by the National Association of Broadcasters and National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, aimed to promote the service that has struggled to take off and broke down the kind of business opportunities it presents to broadcasters. An archive of the event is available.

Mobile DTV is a dedicated slice of spectrum that broadcasters can use to send their live, linear signal to mobile devices equipped with an appropriate receiver. Today, Dyle is located in 39 markets, reaching 57% of the U.S. population. Wednesday’s event was part of a holiday season-long blitz to promote the service and convince broadcasters to spend about $100,000-$150,000 to light up a mobile signal at their station. Mobile DTV’s strongest asset today is that consumers don’t need to use cellular data or Wi-Fi — just the receiver — to watch live TV.

“If you’re not mobile, you’re standing still,” says Sam Matheny, VP policy and innovation for Capitol Broadcasting. “Mobile is here today, it works and its spectrum efficient.”

Mobile video today is a $45 billion business, says Rick Ducey, managing director of BIA/Kelsey, and is projecting double digit growth for years to come.

Broadcasters will be able to grab a portion of that pie a few different ways, according to the panelists.

First, it could be incorporated as a TV everywhere type business. Salil Davi, co-GM of Dyle, says the service could one day be part of your pay TV subscription and once authenticated, you’d have total access to mobile DTV. The broadcaster ultimately makes money off the service by raising its retransmission fee with the pay TV operator.

The TV everywhere model could help mobile DTV iron out negotiations with some content providers, namely sporting events. Since mobile DTV is separate from a station’s main broadcast signal, rights to syndicated and network programming need to be purchased. Turn on Sunday Night Football this weekend using mobile DTV and you’ll either see a black screen or alternative programming.

Davi says mobile DTV was built to be compatible with multiple business models.

Matheny, a founding member of the Mobile500 Alliance, Dyle’s only competitor, anticipates mobile DTV to always have some free, over-the-air component, but also a subscription-based service. “There will probably be other components that we haven’t even thought of yet,” he says.

That free, over-the-air component could prove to be the most popular if Dyle, Mobile500 and broadcasters can convince consumers that they need the mobile DTV service, says Ducey.

“Business people love the low hanging fruit,” he says. “Love them or hate them, the Nielsen rating is our currency. If mobile can extend distribution and can help a station get a 0.3 rating increase, that’s instant cash.”

Other Highlights

  • The panel session talked Mobile EAS, which ATSC published an implementation guide for this week.
  • When asked what happens to mobile DTV when ATSC 3.0, the next-generation TV standard, arrives, panelists agreed that it would — for the most part — make it obsolete. Most of the comments geared toward this question suggested that mobile DTV is the bridge toward ATSC 3.0. “You can’t just sit and wait,” says Matheny.
  • Perhaps Dyle could team up with a company like Roku. One panelist mentioned recent comments from Anthony Wood, founder of Roku, suggesting that the over-the-top box could be a mobile DTV hotspot for the home, allowing anyone to pickup a signal on any device without a receiver, just an app.

NAB, NATAS Hosting Mobile DTV Event

NAB, NATAS Hosting Mobile DTV Event

Where’s mobile DTV at today? And how can broadcasters make money off those on-the-go viewers?

The National Association of Broadcasters and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences plan on tackling those questions in Washington, D.C., next week for an event that will focus on mobile TV.

“Delivering video to mobile devices is an essential evolution for television broadcasters,” NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said in a statement. “Through events like this, our goal is to inform broadcasters about how their stations can utilize mobile TV technology to realize the opportunities and advantages of providing live and local television to viewers on-the-go.”

The event is scheduled for Nov. 13 at the NAB headquarters, 1771 N. Street NW, in Washington. The program starts at 6:30 p.m. For those who can’t make it, a live webcast of the event — which I plan on covering — will be made available. Register here.

Don’t expect to hear about the progress of broadcasting’s enemy Aereo, or even the more-friendly Syncbak. This event appears to be about mobile DTV, the slice of spectrum broadcasters can use to send a signal to equipped mobile devices. Today, there are a handful of mobile DTV receivers on the market.

Dyle, one of two players in the mobile DTV game, recently released a new wireless receiver by Audiovox. Elgato, Escort and Belkin also have mobile DTV receivers and smartphone or tablet applications that comes with it.

Rick Kaplan, EVP of strategic planning for the NAB, will lead a panel discussion that includes Salil Davi, co-general manager for the Mobile Content Venture Dyle TV; Sam Matheny, VP of Capitol Broadcasting and a member of the Mobile500 Alliance; and Rick Ducey, managing director of BIA/Kelsey, who will present new research on mobile video trends.

In addition to updates on products, those in attendance — or those watching online — can see demos of the products that the mobile DTV industry hopes will be stuffed in Christmas stocking this year.

Mobile500 Alliance Has New Leadership, Website Down

Mobile500 Alliance Under New Leadership, Website DownThe Mobile500 Alliance, one of two consortiums focused on advancing mobile DTV in the U.S., has been under new leadership since May and its website is no longer active.

John Lawson, who served as the alliance’s executive director since its inception in 2010, stepped down following the NAB show in April when his contract expired. Lawson was replaced by Rob Hubbard, president of Hubbard Broadcasting, who says a merger with Dyle, the other mobile DTV consortium, isn’t on the horizon, despite public discussions from both sides.

“From the Mobile500 perspective, we know we represent the small and medium-sized market broadcasters that aren’t reflected on the other side,” says Hubbard. “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.”

Prior to be acquired by Sinclair, Fisher Broadcasting, under the leadership of Colleen Brown, handled the day-to-day heavy lifting for the Mobile500 Alliance. Hubbard says the Alliance is currently in a “neutral mode” as the group makes an administrative transition.

That could be why news on the Mobile500 Alliance side has been quiet.

Heading into this year’s NAB Show, the company released data from its soft launch in Seattle and Minneapolis (DMAs 12 and 15, respectively). In those markets (KING, KIRO and KOMO broadcast a mobile signal in Seattle; KSTP and WFTC broadcast a mobile signal in Minneapolis), more than 500 Elgato dongles that are needed to receive the signal on an iPhone were handed out to consumers. The company reported that 62% of consumers in Seattle and Minneapolis watched Mobile DTV one to five hours per week.

Since then, news has been relatively quiet. Capitol Broadcasting Co. lit up WRAL (CBS) and WRAZ (Fox) in Raleigh this summer, but consumers still can’t buy dongles to receive the Mobile500 signal on their devices. Hubbard says Capitol handed out hundreds of dongles to consumers, just as they did in Seattle and Minneapolis.

Hubbard says consumers that do have the dongle are watching mobile broadcasts, but it’s clear that the dongle is significantly less attractive than having an antenna already built-in to a device.

“The idea of the dongle is problematic, but that’s no surprise, everyone has known that,” he says. “When its built-in it would get more use. The idea of having a dongle is something that people are less thrilled about.”

Since the end of August, the Mobile500 Alliance’s website has been shut down, as reported by Deborah McAdams at TVTechnology. The domain is pending renewal or deletion.

Hubbard says the broadcasting community and consumers likely won’t hear any updates about the Mobile500 Alliance until January at the International Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas.

Dyle, Mobile500 Merger Talks Continue At ATSC Meeting

mobiledylemergerThere were more rumblings about a merger between Dyle and the Mobile500 Alliance in Washington this week.

In a panel on mobile DTV at the Advanced Televisions Systems Committee Annual Meeting, Rajan Mehta, chief technology officer of Mobile Content Venture (better known as Dyle), and Sam Matheny, VP policy and innovation at Capitol Broadcasting Co., and a member of the Mobile500 Alliance, agreed that the only difference between the groups trying to make mobile television a consumer success is a business philosophy.

“The underlying goal of Mobile500 and Dyle is to provide a great customer experience,” said Mehta, who is also the executive director of advanced technology at NBCUniversal. “It’s the same technology… this is not a betamax to VHS scenario. It’s all the same standard, just a different philosophy.”

Matheny told the crowd of about 100 broadcast professionals at the meeting that talks between the two companies about a merger are under way.

“I hope to come together and get it worked out,” said Matheny. “I hazard to guess when something like that may happen, but I think if and when it does, we’ll be in  great position to offer a truly comprehensive and unique service.”

The first mention of a merger between the two companies came at this year’s NAB Show, when Mobile500 Alliance Executive Director John Lawson said “Both groups have known from the beginning that we need to unify efforts to be successful. It’s always been a question of when.”

Erik Moreno, Dyle co-general manager, echoed those thoughts at this year’s NAB Show, saying it was a shame that the companies hadn’t come together by now.

In a discussion on ATSC 3.0 Thursday, Moreno said he was a broadcaster in the cooperation business: “And it’s called Dyle,” he said.

“Dyle and mobile TV had a great initial wave of support… but we need everyone to participate to win. At the end of the day, it’s a minimum of $100,000 per station, yet we can’t get cooperation. In this massive amazing vision we have, we are talking about serious innovation and the challenge we need to face, and yet I have hope because at the end of the day, I think the vision is so massive that this is a multi-billion dollar opportunity.”

Maybe Mobile DTV Was A Hit At NAB 2013

Maybe Mobile DTV Was A Hit At NAB 2013

As I anxiously awaited to return home to Colorado after six days in Vegas for my first NAB Show, I needed to do one last thing: Check to see how many mobile DTV dongles sold at the NAB Store.

On Sunday, my editor Harry Jessell and I checked out the store in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, and saw that it was packed with devices. As I was taking a picture of the display, the chief engineer from WPXI Pittsburgh told me that Elgato’s dongle worked pretty well.

Picture quality and strength of signal is great, he told me. But not too many people in Pittsburgh are tuning in. That’s because the Cox Television-owned NBC affiliate is the only station in the market to put out a mobile signal.

That’s the main problem with mobile DTV. A consumer isn’t going to drop $100 on a device for one channel. Erik Moreno, co-manager of Dyle, one of two consortiums trying to make mobile DTV a consumer success, said the same thing in a panel session hosted by Jessell on Tuesday at NAB.

“The entirely logical conclusion is we ask the industry to go ahead and do this,” said Moreno. “Whenever I pitch it to the industry, I say, we could build a network nationwide with $300 million. That’s less than it takes to light the bulbs of a Verizon LTE network. You pay for the spectrum, build out a cell tower, it’s north of $25 billion.

“For us as an industry, let’s aggregate $300 million and go and do it.

Maybe that’s the plan. I reported this week that Dyle and its competitor, the Mobile500 Alliance, will likely merge in 2013. “Both groups have known from the beginning that we need to unify efforts to be successful. It’s always been a question of when,” said John Lawson, executive director of Mobile500.

Could one, unified group rally all 750 or so stations in the U.S. to broadcast a mobile DTV signal? It’s estimated that it would cost about $130,000 to $150,000 per station. Those stations need to decide if that expense — while not astronomical — makes business sense.

It would certainly eliminate any confusion among consumers, who right now, need to decide which group to pick. It’s seems like more of a marketing issue.

So, back to the original point of this blog post: Was mobile DTV a hit at this year’s NAB Show? If you go by the amount of Elgato and Escort dongles remaining in the store on Thursday afternoon, then yes.

I don’t have an exact number, but the cashier told me they were very popular this week. Have a look for yourself:

Mobile DTV NAB Show

Could Dyle and Mobile500 Merge This Year?

DyleMobile Merger-1

From left, Erik Moreno, Fox SVP of Corporate Development, and James Goodmon, Jr., VP, GM of CBC New Media Group at Capitol Broadcasting Company.

(This post has been updated to reflect comment’s from Mobile500′s executive director.)

A member of the Mobile500 Alliance and the consortium’s executive director says a merger with Dyle could happen soon.

Speaking at a panel session Tuesday, James Goodmon, Jr., VP and GM of CBC New Media Group at Capitol Broadcasting Company, said both mobile DTV groups have the same goal of delivering free, over-the-air TV to mobile devices.

“We’re practically the same,” Goodmon said, when asked if there would ever be a merger between Dyle and Mobile500. “I think we will come together fairly soon.”

Erik Moreno, Dyle co-general manager, agreed with Goodmon. “It’s a shame. If you light up a station to go mobile, it’s on the (same) standard. The Mobile500 app picks that up and the Dyle app picks that up.”

John Lawson, executive director of Mobile500, says talks of a merger have intensified in the past weeks. “Both groups have known from the beginning that we need to unify efforts to be successful. It’s always been a question of when.”

Lawson said Sinclair Broadcast Groups’ decision to put its Fox stations on the Dyle network could be an indicator of a future merger. Sinclair is a founding member of the Mobile500 Alliance.

Since 2010, both groups have tried to make mobile DTV a consumer success. Dyle’s mobile TV footprint expanded this week to 57% of the U.S. population, in a total of 116 stations in 39 markets. Earlier this month, Mobile500 added a dozen Sinclair stations across nine markets to its list of stations who broadcast a mobile signal.

Mobile500 VP: Aereo Is A Wake Up Call For Mobile TV

mydtv_logo21A Mobile500 Alliance executive called Aereo a wake up call for the mobile DTV community at the NAB Show Monday.

Speaking at the NAB’s Broadcast Engineering Conference, Brian McHale, Mobile500 VP of technology, said 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.

“We’re hyper-focused on this at this point,” McHale said to about 30 people in the dimly lit conference room in the Las Vegas Convention Center. “We understand how important this is.”

The Mobile500 alliance wrapped up its soft launch in Seattle and Minneapolis at the end of March. Earlier this month, Sinclair Broadcast Group showed its support for mobile DTV efforts by bringing nine new markets onboard with the technology.

McHale couldn’t comment on when those stations would go on air. He said he’s unaware of any other station groups who plan to go on air under the Mobile500 umbrella this year.

In Seattle, McHale said users were watching their mobile TV service 20 minutes per week. Users in Minneapolis watched 31 minutes per week, for an average of 28 minutes per week. Additionally, 61% said the product was easy to use. Randa Minkarah, SVP revenue and business development for Fisher Communications, an alliance station group member, plans to deliver more audience measurement statistics on Tuesday at the NAB Show from 1-2:15 p.m. in N238.

Rajan Mehta, CTO of Dyle, the other mobile DTV consortium, declined to comment on Aereo during the panel session. He did say that he doesn’t see a subscription service for mobile DTV being a successful business model right now, but believes it could be in future rollouts of the service.

At this year’s NAB Show, Elgato and Escort dongle adapters for iOS devices are for sale in the NAB Store in the convention center’s north hall. Android-based dongles are on display in the Dyle booth and are expected to hit market this year. Additionally, RCA’s mobile TV tablet is on display at the Dyle booth. It’s unclear when the tablet will be available to the market.

Dyle Expands Mobile DTV To WCBS, Other Markets

Dyle Expands Mobile DTV To WCBS, Other MarketsWCBS New York, who is working with Syncbak to stream a live mobile signal, now plans to broadcast a mobile DTV signal under the Dyle mobile TV environment.

Dyle, also known as the Mobile Content Venture, has also expanded into Baltimore, Jacksonville and Salt Lake City broadcast market. Dyle’s mobile TV footprint now expands to 57% of the U.S. population, in a total of 116 stations in 39 markets.

The last market to come onboard with Dyle was Pittsburgh in November 2012.

According to Dyle, stations planning on sending out a mobile DTV signal this year, include:

  • WBAL Baltimore (NBC)
  • WOIO Cleveland (CBS)
  • WDTN Dayton, Ohio (NBC)
  • WSPA Greenville, S.C. (CBS)
  • WTEV Jacksonville (CBS)
  • WAWS Jacksonville (Fox)
  • WTLV Jacksonville (NBC)
  • WJXT Jacksonville (independent)
  • KCTV Kansas City (CBS)
  • WCBS New York (CBS)
  • KOIN Portland (CBS)
  • KMOV St. Louis (CBS)
  • WTSP Tampa (CBS)

CBS has been using Syncbak in New York (WCBS and WLNY) and Los Angeles (KCBS and KCAL) for several months. The app is a platform that streams programming of stations while restricting reception to mobile devices within the stations’ markets. In February, Robert Seidel, the network’s vice president of engineering and advanced technology, said, “Syncbak gives us mobile TV without having to plug in an antenna or adapter. It can run on 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi — all of which are very reliable to get live TV when on the go.”

Dyle and the Mobile500 Alliance, the other group trying to make mobile DTV successful, prides themselves on the fact that users don’t need to use data, and can obtain live TV for free, over-the-air. The trade-off, however, is that users are required to plug-in an adapter (right now, Elgato and Escort sell dongles) into their smartphone or tablet, or buy a device with a built-in antenna.

Dyle and the Mobile500 Alliance are hosting sessions at the NAB Show Monday afternoon. Playout will be covering those events.

Sinclair Adding Mobile DTV to Nine Markets

Sinclair Adding Mobile DTV to Nine Markets

Sinclair Broadcast Group is showing its support of current mobile DTV efforts by bringing nine new markets onboard with the technology.

Mark Aitken, Sinclair VP of advanced technology, said the pace of technology makes it imperative for broadcasters to offer mobile DTV to lead in serving their communities. “Broad adoption of mobile DTV, as part of our local broadcast television offering, is the next step. We are confident our Network partners will see the value mobile simulcasting brings in building station and Network brands, audience share and local television relevancy.”

The stations going on air with a mobile DTV signal include:

  • KEYE Austin, Texas (CBS)
  • WBFF Baltimore (Fox)
  • WKRC Cincinnati, Ohio (CBS)
  • WSYX Columbus, Ohio (ABC) Already on-the-air with Mobile
  • WTTE Columbus, Ohio (Fox) Already on-the-air with Mobile
  • WKEF Dayton, Ohio (Fox)
  • WLOS Asheville, N.C. (ABC)
  • WPGH Pittsburgh (Fox)
  • KUTV Salt Lake City, Utah (CBS)
  • KDNL St. Louis (ABC)
  • WPEC West Palm Beach, Fla. (CBS)

Sinclair is a founding member of the Mobile500 Alliance, but has also agreed to commit its Fox affiliates to operate within the Mobile Content Venture, also known as Dyle, mobile TV environment. All of the stations will operate inside of the Mobile500 MyDTV application, which is available for download in the iTunes App Store.

The Mobile500 Alliance plans to release consumer data and feedback at this year’s NAB Show, in addition to holding a members-only meeting, where the next phase of MyDTV will be discussed. Officials with the Mobile500 Alliance have declined to comment on when an official launch would happen.

Chief Engineers Downbeat About Mobile DTV

Mobile DTV iPad Mini

A staggering majority of chief engineers across the country don’t feel very confident about Mobile DTV becoming a consumer success.

According to a TVNewsCheck/Playout survey, 82% of chief engineers said they were either pessimistic or unsure/ambivalent on how successful Mobile DTV would be as a commercial offering.

  • 29.6% are pessimistic
  • 18.3% are extremely pessimistic
  • 33.8% are ambivalent/not sure

Only 18% said they were optimistic about the technology.

In February, TVNewsCheck/Playout surveyed 577 chief engineers at Big Four network O&Os and affiliates via email and tabulated responses of 74 or nearly 13%. The respondents represent a good cross section of market sizes and networks. More results from the survey will continue to be released in the coming weeks here on Playout.

At this year’s NAB, the two Mobile DTV groups — Dyle and the Mobile500 Alliance — will do their best to convince those engineers that the technology is ready for primetime and can be successful.

A handful of Mobile TV vendors will be on the show floor in the Mobile TV Pavilion, located in N2536-2638, where show attendees will have the opportunity to buy smartphone and tablet dongles by Escort and Elgato.

On Monday, from 1-1:30 p.m. in S225, there’s a Mobile DTV technical paper being presented by Jay Adrick, who has been leading the charge with the Mobile Emergency Alert System. That paper is followed by presentations from Dyle and the Mobile500 Alliance from 2-3 p.m. in S225.