[opendtv] Re: Local Content Considered Key to Mobile DTV Adoption

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 16 Dec 2009 08:56:06 -0500

At 10:05 AM -0800 12/15/09, dan.grimes@xxxxxxxx wrote:

I would think that there would have to be more compelling programming than a weather subchannel or even a local newscast to make one want to tune into ATSC, especially since, as Craig points out, they are already available on the web and in a VOD fashion on current devices. The question is, what is on ATSC that would make someone want to spend money to view it on a handheld device?

Live content that is not available elsewhere.

ATSC is completely linear and almost singular, with the exception that we have a choice between multiple singular and linear program streams. Will linear be able to survive? What benefit does it have? The key is to match programming that requires these characteristics. The obvious applications that comes to mind is breaking news, which happens sporadically, and sports. People usually don't spend money on news but they spend lots of money on sports. Anyone have any other ideas on what matches ATSC's characteristics that people will pay for?

Dan has hit on a key point here. It is linear TV that is really hurting. The old days when program adjacency provided added value are long gone. The vast majority of pre-produced content, which makes up most of the high value content from the broadcast networks, can be consumed when the viewer wants to watch it. There's the DVR, Hulu, VOD, iTunes, et al. . .

Even Bert admits that he records this stuff for time shifting and possibly commercial skipping.

The only content that gets the folks to sit down for "an appointment," is live content. This is mostly sports, but also includes top rated shows like American Idol. AND THIS is - IMHO - the only content offered by broadcasters that MIGHT cause consumers to buy a mobile DTV receiver.

It is ironic that the broadcasters have foisted themselves on their own petard.

Consider where they might be today IF they had decided to deploy a DTV transmission infrastructure that was mobile friendly from the outset.

We demonstrated high quality mobile DTV in Las Vegas in 2000 - but it was DVB based COFDM. No doubt Mark Aitken and the great folks at Sinclair still lament the misguided decision to stick with ATSC and then glue on a mobile standard to create a three humped dromedary.

IF broadcasters had understood in 1992 that their future viability would depend on the ability to reach things that move, they would be the entrenched mobile player today. Instead they placed the focus on HDTV, which did little more than help the CE industry make the transition to flat screens, while providing the MVPD's with another advantage over FOTA ...

i.e. dozens of channels in HD... soon to be a hundred or more.

There is no doubt that people will watch the old "linear content" on mobile devices, especially when we get tablets devices with 7 to 10 inch screens. But these shows are not broadcast during the morning commute or afternoon drive time; and they are not available when you are flying across the country at 40,000 feet.

But even that is changing as broadband is deployed in our commercial airline fleet.

Today broadcasters face an uphill battle trying to get the companies that control popular mobile platforms to include ATSC MHP reception in these devices. A decade ago broadcasters might have had a chance, but they wasted the opportunity in a wrong headed attempt to extend a dying business model.


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