----- Original Message ----- From: "Mark A. Aitken" <maitken@xxxxxxxxxx>
So what if there were money to be made EXCLUDING new business? (not my words)
Not even the Study's numbers. The study says:"Given these advantages and the present status of the mobile television marketplace, we conclude this report by estimating the impact of a M/H DTV standard on the number of devices able to receive M/H DTV services by the year 2012 and the resulting additional revenues generated by the availability of those services. In order to estimate the impact of the standard we assess the likelihood of success under four different scenarios:
"1. A single system is introduced into the marketplace and that system is the one the ATSC standardized.
"2. Two systems are introduced into the marketplace and only one of those systems was standardized by ATSC.
"3. Two systems are introduced into the marketplace and the ATSC was not able to agree upon a standard.
"4. Three systems are introduced into the marketplace and the ATSC did not agree upon a standard."
Then the study predicts ad revenue based on those four scenarios as follows: Scenario 1 - $1.1 billion Scenario 2 - $0.6 billion Scenario 3 - $0.2 to $0.4 billion Scenario 4 - $0.1 billionAre these four Scenarios based on systems just for broadcasters, or do they include systems that compete against broadcasters? If the latter, then guess what? It's already too late for Scenario 1. Qualcomm's MediaFLO is already well entrenched in the marketplace in most major markets, and the white areas will be filled in after the analog cutoff in Feb of 2009. (We are on their channel 55 in the Lansing, MI market so we know how anxious they are for us to clear out!)
So that leaves Scenario 2 as the best case. Two M/H systems, with one approved by ATSC. Best case revenue? $600 million by 2012. With Crown Castle throwing in the Modeo towel, that seemingly eliminates Scenarios 3 and 4. However, this study completely ignores Sirius Backseat TV, a satellite delivered mobile television service that would be a direct competitor for at least the "M" part of ATSC M/H. However, there was no scenario for three systems and only one approved by the ATSC, which is what we will have if Sirius Backseat TV survives the XM merger. It may not only survive, but the service may get expanded by the merger, yet another factor ignored by this report.
Where is the money going to come from for stations to build out this ATSC M/H infrastructure? The report quotes a "mere" $100,000 per station. That may cover a new ATSC M/H capable exciter for the RF Plant, but does it include the ability to receive additional programming streams into the master control plant? Does it include additional server space? Additional automation? More channels of traffic software? Subscription billing? Conditional Access infrastructure? With most stations still deeply in debt with the digital transition and trying to rebuild studios for HD, and many groups teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, I don't think the money is there for stations to equip ATSC M/H, especially if the anticipated revenues are not generated quickly.
Why does this study think that it is imperative for an ATSC M/H standard to be announced by February 2009, the analog cutoff date? The only major competition is Qualcomm's MediaFLO, and it is already launched with Verizon and AT&T, and will simply be expanded to secondary markets in Feb 2009. Is it not better to get a standard right the first time, down to the last detail, than to get it fast? As an example I submit E-VSB, which has been an ATSC approved standard since 2004, and yet apparently is so useless that a new M/H standard is required. Being fast almost never results in being the best.
And finally, were was the NAB back in 1999-2000 when we had the chance to switch to a DTV system capable of mobile performance with little or no compromise to fixed receivers, and with no need to negotiate additional M/H-specific program rights? Europe has proven that DVB-T is receivable by in-car receivers, portable devices, and laptops. Adding DVB-H brings in the handheld cell phones. This study talks about a unified ATSC M/H standard to leverage economies of scale, and if we had DVB-T, we would be leveraging worldwide economies of scale for the production of DVB-T M/H devices. If this study's predictions of potential market and revenue are correct (which I seriously doubt,) I see this report as a complete vindication of the Sinclair DVB-T proposal of 2000.
Unfortunately, I predict that this whole M/H proposal will go the way of USDTV and MovieBeam. Millions down a rat hole for infrastructure, and never even coming close to breaking even with ad revenue, subscriptions, or any combination thereof.
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