Mobile Content Venture hopes to have 40 percent of U.S. population covered by 2012

A consortium of local TV stations formed to promote and deliver mobile video to consumers as an adjunct of the stations' terrestrial DTV service said that a dozen of its members have committed to making the much talked about wireless service a reality in 20 DMAs by the end of 2011. Of course, many specifics have yet to be determined, such as how they expect to generate revenue by delivering live and on-demand video, as well as other services, to portable devices.

Late last week the Mobile Content Venture (MCV), made up of 12 broadcast companies, said that by the end of next year it will make mobile video services available in markets reaching more than 40 percent of the U.S. population. The service will initially consist of at least two ad-supported free-to-consumer channels in each market. Additional channels and markets are expected to be added over time.

The goal is to provide a new national mobile video service that leverages existing broadcast spectrum to allow MVC member companies to deliver content to mobile devices, both live and on-demand. Content could include popular sports and entertainment programming as well as local and national news from print and electronic sources.

In 2011, MCV expects to offer the mobile video service in the following markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Tampa, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Orlando, Portland, Cincinnati, Greenville, West Palm Beach, Birmingham, and Knoxville. This includes 13 of the top 15 DMAs in the country.

Salil Dalvi, co-GM of MCV, said live, local video will be a key part of these mobile services, so upgrading member stations for mobile “is an important first step in making this a reality.” The cost to each station will be roughly $125,000, which includes a new exciter board for its existing transmitters and other related equipment.

In order to receive the mobile video service, consumers will need a device capable of receiving a specific type of mobile video broadcast, encrypted with conditional access. MCV said it is working with various OEMs and device manufacturers to ensure these devices become available in large enough quantities by the end of next year to support various types of business models. The potential for success is there, as market research from In-Stat predicts that more than 30 million ATSC Mobile DTV devices will be deployed in the United States by 2014.

The MCV also said that the service complements the FCC's National Broadband Initiative, which has government officials looking to reclaim spectrum now used by broadcasters for their over-the-air DTV channels. The new ATSC Mobile DTV services would offer consumers access to mobile video content by usig existing broadcast spectrum from its partners to offer a breadth of programming, including sports and entertainment content.

The group said the ATSC Mobile DTV technology being deployed by MCV members will allow them to distribute content more efficiently than they could using wireless 3G and 4G technology.

The Mobile Content Venture (MCV) is a joint venture that includes Fox, ION Television, NBC and Pearl Mobile DTV. The Pearl member companies include Belo, Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, Media General, Meredith, Post-Newsweek Stations and Raycom Media.