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Mobile DTV Viewers Favour Local Broadcasts

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) announced that local TV broadcasts are strongly favoured by Mobile Digital Television (DTV) viewers participating in a consumer showcase of the technology now underway in Washington, DC.

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Unedited press release follows:

Hundreds of Washington, D.C. Viewers Highlight “On the Go” Convenience of Mobile Broadcasts from Local TV Stations

Mobile Digital TV Viewers Prefer Local TV Channels When Watching on Prototype Devices
CTIA Enterprise & Applications 2010

WASHINGTON–Local TV broadcasts are strongly favored by Mobile Digital Television viewers participating in a Consumer Showcase of the technology now underway in the nation’s capital. Many Mobile DTV viewers say they are watching more TV because it is readily available, and that the convenience of mobile viewing means that local and national programs are being watched during lunch breaks, while waiting in lines, or even at home when someone else is watching the main TV.

The availability of local channels makes Mobile DTV a unique offering for the nascent mobile video market. At the CTIA Enterprise & Applications show this Thursday in San Francisco, the Open Mobile Video Coalition will update the wireless industry on more detailed findings from the Consumer Showcase, including the channel-changing preferences of hundreds of viewers who have tuned into thousands of programs thus far.

The Mobile DTV service in Washington includes 23 channels of local and national news and entertainment programming, all transmitted by nine Washington-area TV broadcasters. Beginning in May, 150 selected consumers in Washington began watching Mobile DTV on specially-modified Samsung Moment cell phones. Starting in late June, those cell phone viewers were joined by 200 additional viewers who were loaned prototype Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbooks equipped with Mobile DTV reception capability. Another focus group of viewers is now also trying out an LG Electronics Mobile DTV/DVD Player that is ideal for kitchen countertop or car backseat viewing.

Key findings from the OMVC Washington Consumer Showcase:

* The most popular mobile program is local news according to trial data compiled by Rentrak’s Mobile Essentials system. Mobile DTV is primarily watched during the work week, and local news leads viewing by number of episodes and total unique viewers. By mid-September, Samsung Moment viewers had tuned in to 2,600 different TV programs and they cite the convenience of a mobile device as the key reason for watching more TV than before.

* Convenience is a key, with viewers checking in wherever they go. In addition to watching at home when others are tuned to different programs on the family big-screen, viewers reported increased TV watching outside of the home, including while commuting on public transportation, during lunch breaks in the middle of the day, and while waiting at the doctor’s office or supermarket.

* In an emergency, mobile viewing spikes. The Mobile DTV devices proved to be an invaluable source of information during approaching storms and other public safety emergencies where information was not immediately forthcoming from authorities.

“Viewers participating in the Consumer Showcase of Mobile DTV say that local channels are critical to a successful service. This tracks with a Magid Media Labs survey OMVC sponsored last December that found nearly nine out of ten consumers said they wanted to see live news and weather programming while on-the-go. Our hands-on findings in Washington show that local channels will be the anchor for future Mobile DTV services,” said ION Media Network Chief Executive Officer Brandon Burgess, who also serves as OMVC President. The Mobile DTV Showcase continues through October.

The showcase includes interactive advertising, electronic service guides for program information, closed captioning and emergency alerts. In addition to automatic audience measurement, the Consumer Showcase is leveraging an online social media research platform from Harris Interactive, Inc. Viewers are being asked to provide feedback through daily diaries, market research and focus groups.

Managed by the OMVC, the Consumer Showcase is sponsored by LG Electronics and Samsung. TV Broadcast members of the Open Mobile Video Coalition are monitoring results from the Consumer Showcase, which will wrap up on Nov. 1. In addition to stations in Washington, TV broadcasters are now transmitting Mobile DTV signals in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta, Orlando, Chicago, Austin, Columbus Omaha, Los Angeles, San Jose, Fresno, and other cities.

Representing nearly 900 TV stations across the country, the Open Mobile Video Coalition is a voluntary association of television broadcasters whose mission is to accelerate the development of mobile digital television in the United States. The OMVC is composed of 30 members that own and operate over 500 commercial television stations, as well as the Association of Public Television Stations, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting Service, which represent an additional 360 public television stations. Membership in the OMVC is open to all U.S.-based television broadcasters.