New York - MetroPCS plans to launch this year the first mobile device that will receive live local mobile DTV broadcasts.
The broadcasts will be transmitted by more than 72 TV stations in 32 markets under the Dyle Mobile TV brand.
Dyle Mobile TV is the brand adopted by the Mobile Content Venture (MCV), which is owned by 12 broadcast groups representing 281 stations, and by two other TV broadcasters. The broadcasters plan to launch Dyle service through 72 stations that reach 50 percent of the U.S. population.
The MetroPCS phone will be an Android-based Samsung-made 4G LTE smartphone with embedded ATSC-M/H (Mobile/Handheld) tuner and telescoping antenna. The phone will be available in MetroPCS-owned stores in all of MetroPCS's 14 markets, which are within the Dyle TV footprint. The phone might also be available at launch in independent wireless stores that specialize in MetroPCS service, said Stephen Jemente, MetroPCS product manager for digital media and location-based services.
MetroPCS and the MCV declined to say whether the phone would launch in the first or second half of the year, but it will be the first device available to receive Dyle TV service. MCV "will talk about other devices over the next several weeks," added Salil Dalvi, MCV's co-general manager and NBCUniversal's senior VP of digital distribution. Smartphones, however, "will be a crucial part of the mix" given widespread cellphone adoption, he said.
"This collaboration allows Dyle to take the first step in realizing the broadcaster vision of live local TV on every smartphones," MCV added in a written statement.
With mobile ATSC-M/H devices, consumers will be able to watch local DTV stations while sitting in a moving vehicle, whereas mobile DTV tuners now on the market must be stationary in order to display a DTV broadcast.
At International CES in Las Vegas, Samsung Mobile, MetroPCS and MCV will demonstrate live Dyle broadcasts, and the planned Samsung phone might appear as a "device in development" at MCV's exhibit, said Erik Moreno, MCV's co-general manager and Fox Networks Group senior VP of corporate development.
Besides Las Vegas, the MetroPCS markets where Dyle service will be available consist of Atlanta; Boston; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Detroit; Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.; New York and Philadelphia.
In select MetroPCS markets, up to five stations will be transmitting their free over-the-air mobile DTV broadcasts for viewing on the smartphone. Eventually, Dyle TV plans to offer a mix of free and subscription-based programming.
The shareholders of the MCV consortium are Fox, NBC, Ion Television, Belo, Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, Media General, Meredith, Post-Newsweek Stations and Raycom Media. Broadcasters Bahakel and Univision, who are not MCV shareholders, also plan to launch Dyle TV service this year.
Their stations are encrypting their mobile-DTV broadcasts for display on smartphones and other planned mobile devices, all of which must be able to access the Internet through cellular or Wi-Fi to download changing encryption keys. The devices' Internet access will also enable the consortium to measure viewership.
Neither Samsung nor the MCV would say whether the Samsung smartphone would also be able to display the encrypted ATSC-M/H broadcasts of TV stations in a rival broadcaster group called the Mobile500 Alliance. The Dyle phone, however, will be able to display unencrypted broadcasts, although MCV said it's unaware of any TV station planning to do so.
MCV also declined to say whether the Samsung phone would offer live-pause or time-shifting capabilities like a DVR, but the phone will have an electronic program guide and a signal-strength meter.
To promote the Samsung phone, MetroPCS "plans to make a big splash" and put "quite a bit of effort" behind promoting it, said MetroPCS's Jemente. He declined to specify the mix of media in which ads would be placed.
Samsung and MetroPCS were selected as partners in the launch because of their willingness to move quickly, MCV's Dalvi said. "Samsung raised their hand and was very aggressive," he said. And MetroPCS was likewise willing "to move fast and first," he said.
Comparing Dyle with FLO TV, the now-defunct subscription-based mobile-DTV service using 700MHz terrestrial spectrum, Dalvi emphasized that FLO TV offered no local programming. When broadcasting NBC's Today Show, for example, FLO TV did not include local-broadcaster break-ins, he said. With Dyle, consumers in a given market will see the break-ins of their local NBC station on the "Today" show, he said.
Dalvi also contended that consumers want a mix of video programming on-the-go ranging from on-demand and live programming as well as short-form and long-form programming.
For its part, the Mobile500 Alliance, which is expected to update its plans at CES, has said it eventually plans a lineup of 15 to 20 free and subscription channels along with video on demand and data via Mobile DTV airwaves and 3G/4G and Wi-Fi networks.