MCV Lays Groundwork for Subscription Model, 2011 Launch

NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES: Mobile Content Venture announced two deals today that suggests the group’s intention to charge for mobile over-the-air content. MCV is tapping Swiss conditional-access specialist Nagra-Kudelski for its encryption technology.

MCV’s announcement affirmed that it plans to launch later service this year, initially with ad-supported content. The intent to charge eventually for some level of service has been intimated by both NBC and Fox, MCV’s two major network players. Today’s announcement confirms the incorporation of encryption technology necessary for a subscription service.

“Nagra-Kudelski... will assist MCV in managing its standards-based conditional access, enabling broadcasters to encrypt content and evaluate numerous business models,” MCV’s shout-out said. “Nagra-Kudelski will also facilitate a simple user registration process for consumers, who will be offered content on an advertising-supported basis at launch.”

MCV is also teaming up with MobiTV, the Emeryville, Calif., provider of mobile content for several wireless carriers, and a pioneer in mobile TV. MCV is tapping Mobi to “develop a number of consumer applications, which will be available as part of the MCV consumer launch in late 2011.”

The Mobi technology will combine access to live broadcast TV and streaming video. MCV did not specifically say an interactive programming guide was in the works, though it said Mobi’s contribution would provide “program information.”

MCV further did deals with Dell and Samsung for the manufacture of compatible receivers, presumably enabled with the Nagra-Kudelski conditional access technology. Both vendors already make receivers that decode A/153, the transmission standard for mobile over-the-air television. More such manufacturing partnerships are expected in the months ahead.

The group plans to launch Mobile DTV in 20 markets later this year. The group was formed last April at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas by Fox, NBC, ION, Belo, Cox, Gannett, Hearst, E.W. Scripps, Meredith, Post-Newsweek and Raycom. It is one of three major broadcast consortiums pushing Mobile DTV. The other two are the Open Mobile Video Coalition and the Mobile500.

The OMVC debuted at NAB 2007 with Fox, Belo, ION, Gannett, Tribune, NBC, Gray, Sinclair and Telemundo contributing 281 collective TV stations. OMVC’s ranks have since swelled to comprise more than 900 TV stations, and yesterday, it announced the addition of Samsung to its membership.

OMVC organized last year’s Mobile DTV Showcase in Washington, D.C. The five-month trial involved 23 channels of mobile over-the-air digital TV and select Sprint subscribers who received A/153-enabled receivers. The group’s membership has about 70 TV stations transmitting A/153 across the country. It unveiled a signal database listing Mobile DTV broadcasting stations yesterday. OMVC also barked several device announcements for the Consumer Electronics Show starting on Thursday in Las Vegas.

The third group pushing Mobile DTV--the Mobile500 Alliance--was formed last fall of broadcast groups comprising 340 stations in 167 U.S. markets. The Mobile500 was formed to some degree in reaction to the formation of MCV, which excluded the members of the Mobile500. The group is now working on content and consumer device arrangements, but no specifics have been announced.

-- Deborah D. McAdams

See . . .
December 9, 2010
: “MobiTV Live Content Delivery Climbs”
MobiTV is pacing to deliver nearly 1,400 live events in the fourth quarter, the company said today. 

October 4, 2010: “Mobile DTV Showcase Details to Be Presented at CTIA Show”
The OMVC said it will provide an update with more detailed findings, “including the channel-changing preferences of hundreds of viewers who have tuned into thousands of programs thus far.” 

September 10, 2010: “Broadcasters Roll Out Mobile500”
The Mobile500 Alliance plans to build on efforts already initiated by the Open Mobile Video Coalition in promoting Mobile DTV. The group is also interested in structuring the business side of the new television delivery system. 

June 8, 2010: “Broadcast Consortium Selects Executives to Lead ‘Mobile Content Venture
MCV will be led by Erik Moreno, senior vice president of corporate development for Fox Networks Group, and Salil Dalvi, senior vide president of Mobile Platform Development for NBC Universal Digital Distribution.

May 27, 2010: “Mobile DTV Runs Up Against Analog Tuner Requirement
The FCC has agreed to consider waiving its dual-tuner requirement for mobile DTV devices.

May 11, 2010: “Mobile DTV Showcase Underway in D.C.
The intent is to get receivers into the hands of a select group of individuals to draw attention to the free service.

April 14, 2010: “Twelve Broadcast Companies Form JV for National Mobile DTV
The venture is designed to complement the FCC’s National Broadband Initiative by giving consumers mobile access to video content while reducing congestion of the nation’s wireless broadband infrastructure.