Skip to main content

Motive Television/Granite Broadcasting Plan Tablet TV Service Launch

Motive Television and its partner Granite Television Corp., under the joint venture Tablet Television LLC, have announced they are progressing further towards consumer testing and launch of “Tablet TV” in the United States.

The system works using a proprietary app and a “T-Pod” antenna-tuner. This week, Motive announced that it had signed a binding Memorandum of Understanding with Ecopro ICT, which is located in Seoul, Korea, to develop and produce T-Pods to specifications developed by Motive. Ecopro ICT will also provide the ATSC middleware software solution that, when combined with the T-Pod and app, will comprise the kit provides to every Tablet TV subscriber.

Ecopro ICT will provide devices for upcoming market research and focus groups starting in February/March this year and for the commercial launch in the first markets by mid-year. Tablet Television will conduct a nationwide market and user research program in the first half of the year to determine viewer interest in the service and identify the most valued features.

Tablet TV uses the same conventional ATSC signals that stations are currently transmitted, so depending on the performance of the T-Pod and its antenna, viewers should have a wide choice of programs in fixed locations. Tablet TV subscribers will also be able to download a selection of video-on-demand moves and programs without the need for Internet access and, when they are connected, use integrated social networking and access anything available over the Internet.

“Motive sees Tablet TV as one of the most significant developments in television since the invention of television,” said Leonard M. Fertig, Motive’s chief executive officer. “Personal TV viewing, whether in the living room, the park, airport, beach, café, or in your own bed is a dramatic change in viewing habits and marks a sea change underway in the television industry. Tablet TV's product is well positioned because we can offer a complete package of everything available on digital terrestrial channels, plus on-demand packages and content without the need for an Internet connection, plus everything available on the Internet when connected.”

Granite Chairman Peter Markham added: “In the United States, the most popular content is on broadcast TV including prime-time series, news, marquee sports. The ability to watch and record major prime-time network and local programming live or record it for personal viewing later on a tablet is a hugely attractive feature we are enabling. We are focused on making Tablet TV available to the US market in 2014 and effectively creating a new television industry segment by expanding the reach of local broadcasters to the hundreds of millions of tablet users.”

It will be interesting to see if this venture succeeds. As I reported last week, at the CES I observed growing interest in adding off-air TV reception to tablets. The requirement for the T-Pod has the advantage that subscribers can use their latest generation tablets with the service but the disadvantage that an extra box or dongle (the physical configuration/connection wasn't specified) has to be carried around or attached to the tablet.

Early efforts, starting with USDTV, to build a service based on free off-air TV with supplemental content and services available to subscribers using set-top boxes failed, although new devices such as Simple TV and other similar technologies that offer both off-air and Internet content have attracted interest. If Tablet TV gains a significant following it could lead to increased interest in the more robust ATSC Mobile DTV platform and perhaps encourage more manufacturers to include TV tuners in their portable devices.

For more information, visit the Motive Television website.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.