Last week at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas a consortium of companies including Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Fox, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearts Television Inc., ION Television, Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., NBC, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc., and Raycom announced plans that could bring prime time and more to mobile.
These companies, which along with more than 800 TV stations also make up the Open Mobile Video Coalition, announced plans to form a new United States based mobile video service that would use the existing broadcasting spectrum. It would allow member companies to provide a full range of video content to mobile handsets. This could see the first fully-fledged event to finally establish a single national mobile TV standard for North America.
Currently there are about 45 U.S. broadcast stations that send test mobile DTV signals, and this new service will use delivery via the same infrastructure as existing over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts to home TVs, but with special enhancements for viewing specifically on a mobile device. The mobile DTV service will launch next week in Washington, D.C. on May 3, and will follow with two stations in the Detroit area later this spring.
So what’s the catch? The first would be that it will likely kill off the already established FLO TV, which Qualcomm launched for AT&T and Verizon Wireless. If you haven’t heard of FLO TV you’re likely not alone. The service hasn’t exactly caught on, but part of the problem is that it hasn’t been widely supported by a range of phones. It is currently just available on a handful of handsets, and let’s face it, users look to their phones to make calls, send and receive text messages, browse the Web and a whole lot more – but usually watching TV isn’t one of those features.
This same problem will likely plague DTV broadcasters. To receive mobile TV users may need after-market accessories that plug into their handsets. This can be a problem for anyone who wants to just do the app thing with their Droid or iPhone. The other problem is that mobile TV will be available where there is a TV signal, not necessarily a mobile signal, so plan on watching the mobile TV in more populated and built up areas.
So while the promise of mobile is once again right around the corner, there are going to be some hurdles. Thus if you really need to catch a particular show whilst on the go, might I suggest the DVR instead.
Steve Jobs Speaks Out Against Flash
One of the biggest complaints about the iPad across the tech blogosphere was that the tablet doesn’t support Flash, the Adobe software that is used for video, animation and games content on the Web. Apple’s Steve Jobs countered last week that there are now more than 200,000 applications available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad that don’t use Flash – and he argued that is a good thing.