DC OMVC Showcase Findings Revealed at ATSC Seminar

Local news is “king,” in terms of Mobile DTV viewers’ program choices, according to the initial findings of the Washington Consumer Showcase. This was revealed by Sterling Davis, vice president of technical operations for the Cox Media Group, and chair of the OMVC’s technical advisory group. Davis was one of more than a dozen speakers at the Oct. 7 Advanced Television Systems Committee’s day-long seminar on Mobile DTV.

“Local news is number one,” said Davis, in reporting the findings. “You would think that sports would be way up there, but it’s not. It’s down in the middle.”

The viewing habits of some 150 DC area Mobile DTV viewers were tracked during a three month period that began on May 3, using the interactive capability of specially modified Samsung “Moment” cell phones that were provided to Sprint cell phone users as part of the OMVC Washington Consumer Showcase.

“Audience measurement was key to this,” said Davis. “We kept track of everything that viewers did at all times, including [the use of] GPS. We knew exactly where they were, and where they came from and where they went in terms of channel changing.”

Davis speculated that the availability of this interactive capability would herald a new era in determination of audience metrics.

“Right now, broadcasting audiences are measured by diaries and meters and holding your thumb to the sky,” said Davis. “In the future [it will be] through the Mobile system.”

The study showed that Mobile DTV usage was highest on Tuesdays and lowest on Sundays, with some 63 percent of viewers watching every day.

“Where they watch is also interesting,” said Davis. “Sixty percent are reporting that they watch it while on the go.”

He noted that many of those responding said that their television viewing habits were increased due to the availability and convenience of the small screen viewing devices.

The ATSC seminar, held in the Wiley Rein Conference Center in downtown Washington D.C., attracted more than 60 broadcast industry personnel from across the country.

Other presentations covered the types Mobile DTV equipment needed to implement the new service, audio issues and content reformatting considerations associated with video-enabled cell phones and similar small screen devices.

Dr. Richard Chernock, CTO at Triveni Digital, provided attendees with information on Mobile DTV transport layer considerations, describing in detail the process for keeping audio and video together.

“We really want the audio and video to happen synchronized to each other,” said Chernock. “Things come down in chunks and pieces that have got to be held until the right time to be fed to the display.”

Tim Carroll, president and founder of Linear Acoustic, was also on hand to describe some of the challenges in providing listenable audio on small screen viewing devices.

“When you think about the types of devices this audio is going to be reproduced on the idea of just ‘plumbing’ regular station audio into this new (Mobile DTV) encoder, there are some problems,” said Carroll. “The device that is going to reproduce this audio is very different than what exists for traditional digital television. Something else that’s pretty obvious is that most mobile devices don’t have 5.1 channels. Most of the prime time content, including the commercials, is 5.1. The viewing environment is usually very noisy and that introduces a completely different set of challenges.” (For more coverage on audio for Mobile DTV, check out “Sounding Out Mobile DTV.”)

The seminar was sponsored by Axel Technologies, dtv Interactive, LG, Harris, Linear Acoustic, Pixtree, RRD USA, and Rohde & Schwarz.

The next ATSC event—a symposium on next generation broadcast technologies—is scheduled for Oct. 19, one day before the annual IEEE Broadcast Technology Society’s Broadcast Symposium. Both events will take place at the Westin Alexandria Hotel in Alexandria, Va.