Austin, Texas - The dawn of mobile digital TV broadcasting or Mobile ATSC-M/H (mobile handheld) takes center stage at this week's annual meeting of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As).
Broadcasters and content producers are looking to cash in on the delivery of simulcast local, network and in some cases premium programming to new generations of mobile DTV devices.
"We're very excited to be working with the TVB, the not-for-profit trade association of America's commercial broadcast television industry, to reach out to America's advertising community this week during the 4As' conference in Austin. Advertisers will want to find out more about the new services and new devices that are just now reaching retail stores," said Anne Schelle, executive director of Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), an association of TV broadcasters and mobile DTV device manufacturers promoting the spread of Mobile Digital TV (DTV) broadcasting.
Mobile DTV, which is a special signal transmitted along with a TV station's terrestrial over-the-air broadcast, is now ramping up at TV broadcast stations across the country. In most cases, the mobile TV programs are the same as those transmitted by local TV broadcast stations, utilizing a portion of the same channel used for regular HDTV broadcast.
According to the OMVC, more than 60 TV stations around the country have already upgraded to offer the new services, including Austin's KVUE -- which is demonstrating Mobile DTV this week and its ability to serve as a local news resource.
Nationwide, local broadcasters are are planning to offer a wide variety of TV shows and sporting events, along with real-time news, weather and traffic.
"Television can be much more than the traditional experience of engaging with your 'big screen' in the living room. To that end, we're very excited about the potential that Mobile DTV broadcasts will bring to our viewers," said Patti C. Smith, KVUE-TV in Austin president. "We know that our viewers will appreciate the convenience that Mobile DTV offers, meeting their needs for immediacy and transportability. Consequently, advertisers will also be interested in the potential for reaching far more viewers now that digital TV will be available anywhere a consumer travels in the viewing area."
Other stations in and around the Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth markets have also started transmitting the new services, according to the OMVC.
"One of the most valuable services our member stations provide is the delivery of timely news and information to viewers. Now, if the weather turns bad, real-time reports can be with you wherever you go. Broadcasters throughout Texas are keenly interested in reaching new audiences outside the home, and Mobile DTV will deliver more viewers as new devices begin to reach the market," said Ann Arnold, Texas Association of Broadcasters president.
A complete list of stations now transmitting in Mobile DTV is available on
of the OMVC, which represents more than 900 TV stations throughout the country.
More than two dozen new products are slated for introduction this year for reception of the new Mobile DTV signals, including a new line of RCA portable TV sets that is being introduced this week through online sales.
Device capable of Mobile DTV reception include: tablet PCs, USB receivers for computers, portable DVD players, and in-car receivers that can supplement an existing "infotainment" system in a car or van for backseat viewing.
In a consumer survey conducted for the OMVC between May and October 2010, nearly 350 consumers were given "hands on" opportunities to use Mobile DTV on prototype cellphones, netbooks and a new DVD player equipped with Mobile DTV capability.
The study showed strong consumer interest in Mobile DTV. While free over-the-air service was a major positive with viewers, nearly half also said they would be at least "somewhat likely" to subscribe to premium services for a monthly fee.
By content type, live local news ranks highly, especially during times of major weather storms or when breaking news unfolds. Local stations were considered essential to the Mobile DTV viewing experience.
Most respondents suggested weekday afternoons as the peak Mobile DTV viewing periods.
In addition, showcase research suggested that Mobile DTV will result in a net gain in overall TV consumption, 94 percent of viewers reported watching more or the same amount of TV as before.
The average daily viewer spent 50 minutes watching Mobile DTV and tuned in more than twice during the day.