Tablet TV Prepares for San Francisco Beta Tests

SAN FRANCISCO—Tablet TV, a new subscription-free over the air DVR-type service jointly financed by Granite Broadcasting and Motive Television plc, a London-based television software and services company, is nearing its beta launch in the Bay area, bolstered by new data that shows strong interest in the service, the company said.

Tablet TV will allow users to watch and record live over-the-air HDTV signals anywhere available and will also allow on-demand packages for downloading in conjunction with local broadcasters—all without a cellular connection. There will also be an option for social media for users connected to the Internet. The service, which will be available for smartphones and tablets, is enabled by a proprietary app and a “T-Pod” antenna tuner. The beta test is being conducted with KOFY-TV, an independent TV station in San Francisco.

According to Frank N. Magid Associates, which is helping the companies fine tune its feature and service offering, as well as its consumer marketing efforts, 33 percent of all tablet owners said they would “very likely” use such a service, which the research firm calculates represents a potential market of 110 million consumers. That majority of that market sector represents 25-54 year-olds, which are more likely to consumer video on mobile devices, according to Magid. Tablet owners spend two and a half-hours per day on their tablets and one third of them watch video on the devices daily. Magid adds that over half of tablet owners would watch additional TV content on their tablets if it were available, a number far higher than for those that are very interested in Tablet TV.

"We have watched video viewing on tablets climb steadily for y ears now, but it has remained clear that a huge opportunity existed around letting consumers watch live television content on tablets," says Andrew Hare, Magid's director of research. "Consumers essentially want to be able to watch whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want, and we haven't seen anything that offered this until now. Clearly Tablet TV could fulfill a huge market need."

A company spokesman said they plan to launch the service to the public in the San Francisco area in time for Black Friday, the traditional beginning of the holiday shopping season.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.