Giant Mobile DTV Rollout Set

Fox, NBC Universal and 10 of the nation’s largest TV groups will deliver live broadcasts to portable devices in 20 top markets (or 40 percent of the U.S. population) by late 2011. The service will initially consist of at least two ad-supported channels in each of the 20 markets, with more planned over time.

The rollout is part of the Mobile Content Venture, a joint venture of 12 broadcasters formed to monetize mobile DTV. Another group, the Mobile500 Alliance, consisting of smaller broadcasters, is also working to bring mobile DTV to market.

The service will be available to consumers in the following markets: New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Houston; Detroit; Tampa, Fla.; Phoenix; Minneapolis; Orlando, Fla.; Portland, Ore.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Greenville, S.C.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Knoxville, Tenn. Consumers will need a portable device capable of receiving the broadcasts.

Broadcasters have embraced mobile DTV as a way to expand audiences. Since May, consumers in the Washington, D.C. market have been able to receive live TV broadcasts to consumer devices as part of the Open Mobile Video Coalition’s Consumer Showcase. Nine TV stations are broadcasting 23 channels of programming including local news, select scripted network TV programming, syndicated talk shows and music.

“Our commitment to launch in 20 markets, including 13 of the top 15 DMAs, is a significant and necessary step in building a viable commercial mobile TV business that delivers a comprehensive product to viewers,” said Erik Moreno, co-gm of MCV. “We welcome the opportunity to work with Fox and NBC affiliates, as well as additional broadcasters, in rolling out many more markets.”

The move by broadcasters to deploy mobile DTV in the marketplace comes at the same time the Federal Communications Commission is looking to convince broadcasters to give up some spectrum as part of its National Broadband Initiative. Broadcasters argue that the technology for mobile DTV is a more efficient way to deliver video content to wireless devices than the one-to-one delivery of wireless 3G and 4G.

Other groups in MCV include ION Television, Belo, Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, Media General, Meredith Broadcast, Post-Newsweek Stations and Raycom Media.