Mobile500 Alliance readies soft consumer launch of MyDTV in two markets

The Mobile500 Alliance plans a soft consumer launch of its MyDTV-branded Mobile DTV service in Seattle and Minneapolis complete with national auto advertisers and audience measurement mechanisms to 750 viewers in each market shortly after the 2013 International CES wraps up this week in Las Vegas.

Viewers will be outfitted with receivers to be used with iPhones and iPads and instructed to download the free MyDTV application to enable the device to receive Mobile DTV and make use of all of the MyDTV features. Fisher Communications and Hubbard Broadcasting are supporting the launch with Mobile DTV transmission in Seattle and Minneapolis, respectively.

“The reason we are doing a soft commercial launch is we feel our brands are important, and it’s important that we do this right with our audience. We want to make sure that any consumer product we put out there is robust and we understand what we are doing with it,” says Colleen Brown, Fisher president and CEO and president of the Mobile500 Alliance.

One key piece to better understanding Mobile DTV is how viewers respond to advertising delivered to their mobile devices, says Brown. Viewers enabled with MyDTV receivers in both markets will be required to register upon the initial launch of the app. Registration will allow the Mobile500 Alliance to collect audience measurement data about participants’ viewing habits as well as demographic information. The alliance is working with Nielsen and Rentrak to evaluate the data.

“With the data, we will know what viewers like and what they don’t like. We will even know how often they view an ad. It will be a great solution for us to look at how this is used and be able to tailor the next generation of Mobile DTV for the future,” says Brown.

Several advertisers, including the Lincoln Motor Company and Chrysler/Jeep, have agreed to run advertising campaigns during the soft launch. Ads will be served to viewers as banners and as interstitials between channel changes.

The Mobile500 Alliance is targeting the 2013 NAB Show for a hard launch of MyDTV. Between the two launches, the alliance will be at work spreading MyDTV to new platforms, says Fisher Communications VP of Technology Brian McHale. “I would say we are confident we will be on the Android platform in the first half of 2013,” he says. “We are also in discussions with Microsoft on the Windows Phone and Surface. Kindle and Nook are on the radar, too.”

According to Brown, the soft launches in Seattle and Minneapolis are important because they will give Mobile500 Alliance member stations, the advertising community and television networks a better idea about what they are committing to with Mobile DTV. “I know that putting a soft commercial launch in place has provided comfort to everyone who has been involved in this process. We will continue to work with our partners on this,” she says.

“Have we worked out every issue? Probably not. But we’ve worked out every issue we need to for the soft launch here. Then we will go through the rest of it as we sort out what this means and how this works.”