NAB 2008-Las Vegas, NV
At NAB 2008, the Open Mobile Video Coalition reported preliminary results of its work to a packed crowd at a Monday morning breakfast. The bottom line: the broadcasting industry is on track to launch mobile DTV services in time for the 2009 digital transition.
Founded at last year’s NAB, the Open Mobile Video Coalition is an association of TV broadcasters whose mission is to accelerate the development of mobile digital video in the U.S., through the development of a single open standard as well as research and education. To date, 800 TV stations representing 103 million households are members of OMVC.
The first step has been trials for pedestrian and high-speed mobile digital TV reception, initiated by OMVC at the request of standard-setting body ATSC. Held in the San Francisco Bay area and Las Vegas in March and April 2008, preliminary results of the trials show that both high-VHF and UHF mobile reception works at pedestrian and highway speeds; mobile reception can be achieved as far as 40 miles from the transmitter and that none of these systems interfere with normal digital broadcasting.
Most compelling to broadcasters is the finding (from an NAB study) that mobile DTV may generate up to $2 billion in additional advertising revenue potential by 2012. No wonder OMVC is eager to settle and standard and open for business. Cox Broadcasting vp of engineering Sterling Davis, chair of the Coalition’s technology committee, said a single open standard will be determined by the end of the year.
The prospect of 24/7 broadcast TV on the mobile platform is compelling, but opens a Pandora’s box of questions regarding digital rights management, competition with the carriers’ own on-deck offerings and the specter of actors, writers and others demanding a piece of the pie. But this group of broadcasters–in a marked change from their slow uptake of the Internet–are admittedly “laser-focused” on making mobile DTV a reality asap. “We’re not competitive with carriers but synergistic,” said one panelist,” And with $2 billion in potential revenues, there’s enough for everyone.”
Really? That might be news for carriers who are doing their best to produce and distribute content, including comnpetitive offerings such as news, traffic and weather. It will be interesting to see if the reality check will fall to carriers or broadcasters in the struggle to be kinds of content, but these broadcast behemoths summed up their case: they’ve got the content and the relationship with advertisers.
With a presence in numerous platforms, however, digital broadcasters will have their own reality check: “We don’t have a broadcast channel, it’s a data channel that we’ll have to parse out,” said another panelist. “At each station, it’ll be a bit management situation. HDTV does not preclude other applications, and as broadcasters we’ll have to make value judgements.”