U.S. Slow to Join Global Wave of Mobile TV Growth

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the nationwide mandated switchover to all-digital TV broadcasts. President Obama is expected to sign legislation that will extend the deadline until June 12th, giving millions of unprepared TV viewers time to trade in their rabbit ears and rooftop antennas for devices that convert the new digital TV broadcasts into analog signals required by old TVs. But the bill also gave TV stations the option of shutting down their analog signals, creating a patchwork of conflicting signals for MediaFlo to contend with in some cities.

In San Diego, for example, four local TV stations that are currently broadcasting with both analog and digital technology plan to switch off their analog broadcasts next week anyway. Two other stations are likely to continue broadcasting in both analog and digital until June 12, while San Diego’s public television station is expected to go all digital in April. You need a TV program to know who the analog vs. digital players are.

Meanwhile, AT&T has been promoting its Mobile TV service and Verizon is advertising the shows available on its VCast network. But Orr says the carriers have it backwards. The cellular companies naturally want to promote their own brands, but Orr argues that content is king, and carriers like Verizon and AT&T should be promoting Disney’s ESPN and Viacom’s MTV because they are more familiar to consumers. “There needs to be some value proposition,” he says.

Orr predicts growth will be steady in Asia, where demand for mobile TV services has been strongest. Japan and Korea have been using mobile TV services since 2005. Europe lags behind Asia because of a standards battle that only ended a year ago with the European Union’s adoption of the open-source DVB-H standard.

Orr says he sees mobile TV expanding beyond cellular phones into automobiles and small hand-held computers known as mobile Internet devices or MIDs. “Once the content is available and the services launched,” he says, “mobile TV will enable more classes of mobile devices that are ‘natural fits’ for mobile entertainment.”

Except in the United States, where Orr says consumers have been getting mixed signals about mobile TV.

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