Carolyn Schuk /
04.07.2009 10:53 AM
Harris, Roundbox join to deliver comprehensive mobile TV solution

Last month, Harris and Roundbox signed an OEM agreement to deliver a complete mobile broadcast solution for U.S. terrestrial DTV broadcasters. Under the agreement, Roundbox will be integrated into the Harris ATSC Mobile DTV broadcast system, offering operators a full-featured broadcast mobile TV solution that can be deployed immediately.

"Free-to-air is important to viewers," said Paul Anderson, Harris director of business development for mobile TV. “DVB-H was touted as the next big thing, but it hasn't done very well because it's a subscription model. Compare that with the [high] popularity of mobile TV in Brazil and Japan with ISDB-T, and DMB in Korea. We think 'free' is the operative word."

One of the important things Roundbox brings to the mobile TV party is an electronic program guide that benefits both viewers and broadcasters, Anderson said.

"Roundbox has made it a very user-friendly experience," Anderson said. "It's intuitively obvious that user satisfaction is dependent on being able to find what they want — and conversely, the biggest frustration is not being able to find what you want. [The ESG] makes viewers' access to programming a little sexier, and it allows the broadcaster to have more say about what they're doing on the channel."

The system also lets operators deliver non-real-time services to mobile TV-equipped devices. It extends broadcasters' reach to mobile devices and expands their services portfolio beyond linear television to data, text and video clips. For example, broadcasters can display a blurb about each show, icons of other shows, breaking news, links to the broadcaster's website and links for more information about a show, such as where viewers can buy items from a show.

From a broadcaster's perspective, the increased cost to get up and running on mobile TV is very low compared with the cost of the transmitter, but they need to make money, Anderson said. "Roundbox's ESG has the ability to do other types of ads, and makes it easy for viewers to buy. You can now tell advertisers that you can do more than just show a commercial, [by] combining Nielsen ratings and Internet click counts."

And that adds up to profitability for mobile TV services, Anderson said. "One of the things we found from the marketing studies is that hours spent viewing TV on a mobile phone are incrementally new hours of watching. That's why we think you can make money with it," he said.

Harris will be showing a single-frequency network at NAB and will unveil new user devices and capabilities.

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