CBS Won’t Pony Up for Unmeasured Mobile DTV

RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF.: CBS will not deliver content to alternative distribution systems that have no form of reliable audience authentication, and that includes mobile DTV. Robert Seidel, CBS vice president of technology said the network has to have a way to leverage revenue for its signal. CBS content is mobile on measurable platforms, he said while participating in a panel discussion at the HPA Tech Retreat this week. There’s an iPhone App for CBS News and the network’s content is available on FLO TV, both distributed via devices with the type of audience data the network seeks.

Seidel said the network elected not to participate in the Open Mobile Video Coalitions because it has no audience authentication for over-the-air, mobile DTV. The OMVC did cut a measurement deal with Rentrak earlier this month, in conjunction with Harris Interactive. The resulting initiative provides analysis of mobile DTV user habits in Washington, D.C., where the service is scheduled for a commercial beta launch in the spring with 20 local TV channels.

The OMVC announced the beta trial in January at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, where several vendors showed mobile devices equipped with reception for ATSC M/H, the mobile broadcast DTV transmission standard. Dell expected to have its Inspiron Mini 10 ready for the trial. A smart case that enables reception on the iPhone was unveiled. Vizio had miniature TVs with ATSC M/H reception, and various dongles were announced.

Not all of them will have the backchannel necessary to provide real-time audience measurement data. The OMVC-Harris-Rentrak system will derive information from only those devices that do--primarily cell phones.

OMVC said it would evaluate “quantitative and qualitative usage for each of the selected device platforms,” to gather information on early adoption, use of pay services, interactive options and other usage habits. The research will be carried out this spring and summer.
- Deborah D. McAdams