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What Mobile Digital TV Viewers Watch

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) announced that participants in its Mobile DTV Consumer Showcase trial embrace Mobile Digital Television largely because of the ready availability of live, local news broadcasts that are not easily found on competing devices and platforms.

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Unedited press release follows:

Mobile Digital TV Viewers Watching More Local News and Weather, Consumer Showcase Research Reveals

Traditional TV Habits Supplemented by ‘On-the-Go’ Viewing of More than 2,600 Different Mobile DTV Programs Since May

WASHINGTON–Whether watching during a lunch break at work, while waiting at the supermarket, or under the covers in bed at home, hundreds of Washington-area TV viewers enthusiastically endorse the concept of Mobile Digital Television largely because of ready availability of live, local news broadcasts that are not easily found on competing devices and platforms. Fans of the new technology also say they are watching more television every day than before.

Since May, when 150 Sprint customers exchanged their cell phones for specially-modified Samsung Moment phones, participants on the Open Mobile Video Coalition’s (OMVC) Mobile DTV Consumer Showcase have shared their experiences with market researchers who are following viewing habits and tracking consumer opinions. Prototype Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbooks equipped with Mobile DTV circuitry were provided to an additional 200 consumers in late June.

Viewing is heaviest during the work week, and is spread throughout the day with showcase participants tuning into 33 different genres of programming throughout the summer. Key findings from the OMVC Washington Consumer Showcase, thus far:

* 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. So far, Mobile DTV viewers have 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 don’t want to give up Mobile DTV. Even with the inherent limitations of trying prototype devices, mobile viewers didn’t want to relinquish their Mobile DTV devices when their portion of the Showcase had come to a close – a fact that bodes well for device manufacturers.

“Mid-term results from the OMVC’s Consumer Showcase confirm that people most want to see live, local programming on Mobile DTV. 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 Showcase will continue through September and October as we reach out to more consumers with different devices,” Burgess added.

In fact, this month, consumers are experiencing mobile DTV on the new LG mobile DTV combined with a portable DVD player. Focus groups will convene in mid October to evaluate viewing habits and mobile DTV performance.

“Bottom line, many people say they are watching more local TV. Since May, we’ve gathered more than 15,000 comments from Consumer Showcase participants who’ve been tuning in morning, noon, and night. These viewers agreed to let us monitor their channel-changing habits, locations, and opinions about the 23 channels of TV content locally transmitted by nine Washington TV broadcasters,” said Aaron Heffron, Vice President of Public Affairs Research for Harris Interactive, Inc.

“As the OMVC’s audience measurement service, Rentrak played a critical role in providing the analysis of viewer activity measurement during this revolutionary study. The combination of Rentrak’s quantitative measurement with Harris Interactive’s qualitative assessments is consistent with the Magid study last fall demonstrating strong consumer support for the potential of mobile digital television, particularly the propensity to watch local news, along with many other genres of on-the-go-viewing programming,” said Ken Papagan, president, Rentrak Corporation.

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.