Mobile Content Venture to roll out mobile TV service in 20 markets


According to the market research firm In-Stat, the U.S. mobile DTV sector will reach more than 30 million ATSC Mobile DTV devices expected to be deployed by 2014. Fueling that growth may well be Mobile Content Venture (MCV), a JV of NBC, Fox and 10 major TV station groups, which will upgrade TV stations in 20 DMAs to deliver live video to portable devices.  NBC and Fox O&Os and affiliates in these markets will air at least two channels of free, ad-supported programming on the mobile platform by the end of 2011. The groups include Belo, Cox, Hearst, Gannett, Post-Newsweek, Media General, Meredith, Raycom and Scripps.

By late next year, the venture will deliver mobile video service in markets representing more than 40% of the US population. Additional channels and markets are expected to be added over time.

Markets include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Tampa, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Orlando, Portland, Cincinnati, Greenville, West Palm Beach, Birmingham, and Knoxville.

“Live, local video will ultimately be a key part of mobile services,” said Salil Dalvi, co-GM of MCV. “Upgrading our stations for mobile is an important first step in making this a reality.”

“Our commitment to launch in 20 markets, including 13 of the top 15 DMAs, is a significant and necessary step in building a viable commercial mobile TV business that delivers a comprehensive product to viewers,” added Erik Moreno, co-GM of MCV.  “We welcome the opportunity to work with Fox and NBC affiliates, as well as additional broadcasters, in rolling out many more markets.”

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) threw in its full support behind the announcement.  “The Open Mobile Video Coalition, which represents nearly 900 broadcast TV stations through America, enthusiastically supports today’s announcement by the Mobile Content Venture as a vital next step for the broad deployment of Mobile Digital TV for viewers,” said Anne Schelle, OMVC Executive Director. “MCV’s plans clearly show their intent to initiate Mobile DTV service in markets throughout the country. After years of refining the Mobile DTV standard, perfecting the technological aspects of the service and learning what consumers want to see on Mobile DTV, the industry is ready to provide the a true Mobile DTV service. Consumers have said time and again that they want to watch a variety of programming on-the-go, including live local news, sports, with access to emergency announcements and their favorite entertainment programs. Today’s announcement by MCV is a significant step in that direction.”

In order to receive the mobile video service, consumers will need a device capable of receiving a specific type of mobile video broadcast, encrypted with conditional access.  MCV is working with various OEMs and device manufacturers to ensure these devices are available in the second half next year.

The technology being deployed by MCV will permit all broadcasters, in a scalable manner, to deliver popular video content in a spectrally efficient manner as compared to wireless 3G and 4G technology. 

RBR-TVBR observation: We see two very good signs with this announcement. 1) This will help accelerate mobile device manufacturers that mobile DTV is gaining momentum and that there will be in-demand programming offered. This will help get mobile DTV chip sets in future offerings from the whole mobile ecosystem–from iPads to Blackberrys. 2) Making the service free to users is the way to go. Qualcomm’s FloTV model charged for its service and it will be shuttered early next year. Offering it for free will accelerate adoption, especially when many consumers are looking for ways to cut subscription-based services these days.