Technology Isn't What's Holding Mobile TV Back
from the wash-rinse-repeat dept
Nearly every single year of the past half-decade or so has been touted as “the year of Mobile TV”, the year in which the long-heralded service would finally break through and get widespread adoption. It didn’t happen in 2008, it didn’t happen in 2009, and while the upcoming World Cup is supposed to be a tipping point, we’re not holding our breath. What mobile TV backers don’t seem to realize is that regardless of whatever new technology they come up with, people just really aren’t very interested in mobile TV — particularly when it’s built on a linear, channel-based programming model that’s largely fallen out of favor for standard TV viewing. But that doesn’t stop the announcements, the latest being that a number of broadcasters are banding together to develop a new national mobile TV service using spectrum they control.
Some observers see this as little more than an attempt by broadcasters to head off the FCC, which wants to seize unused broadcast spectrum and refarm it for use by mobile broadband services — just like the FCC did with analog broadcast spectrum. So the broadcasters want to launch a service “to provide content to mobile devices, including live and on-demand video, local and national news from print and electronic sources, as well as sports and entertainment programming” — wait, doesn’t that sound like the mobile web? But they want to use a variation of the ATSC digital broadcast technology to set up their own closed system, and also go out of their way to say that the network can be used to deliver public-safety information during emergencies. But they still don’t explain just how they think they’ll build any interest in these services. Maybe getting that government handout based on spurious public-safety claims is their only hope.