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Broadcasters see high consumer interest in mobile DTV

A new Magid Media Labs study commissioned by the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) finds that mobile consumers in the United States want to watch live, local mobile DTV.

Nine out of 10 of the 1000 national survey respondents — most aged 18 to 29 — said they would watch live news and weather programming while on the go. Seventy-eight percent of respondents expressed interest in watching this content on mobile devices including laptops, netbooks, cellular handsets and smartphones.

Fifty-one percent the respondents said they want access to live, local broadcasts. Nearly half of those surveyed said they were interested in buying a new portable device with the capability to receive mobile DTV from over-the-air local stations.

Though the broadcasters are optimistic about mobile television, they face stiff competition in the marketplace. Qualcomm’s MediaFLO technology, a competitor, already uses television spectrum and is carried as a pay service by several mobile providers. The company recently launched its first portable television. MobiTV, another competitor, uses mobile phone spectrum and already is sold by mobile carriers.

Broadcasters plan to show a series of new products that can receive television signals at the CES show at Las Vegas in January. However, what’s missing is a deal with a wireless carrier — something that’s essential if large numbers of viewers are ever going to use the local service. Wireless carriers choose the phone features they sell to their customers.

Since wireless carriers sell television as an add-on service, no carrier has yet to agree to sell mobile phone sets that pick up free over-the-air television. Some larger broadcasters have advocated banding together to negotiate agreements with wireless carriers in a revenue-sharing deal. The issue is expected to be addressed at the CES show.