Insider Reporter

Mobile Video -- The Story Continues....

newsheadlines for broadcast, pro and streaming media sectors, worldwide

w/e May 14, 2009 SCRI International, Inc

Last week SCRI published a story in our weekly newsletter questioning whether all the talk of mobile video in the broadcast industry is over “hyped” in terms of the short term impact (2009—2010) on traditional broadcast / pro video equipment sales. We stand by our conclusion that the impact in the short term of mobile video on traditional broadcast/pro video equipment sales will be minimal. That is not to say that this technology could change the playing field down the road, as did the migration to H/DTV, which SCRI began tracking in the late 80’s and took another ten years to begin to make an impact on traditional broadcast / pro video sales.

In the newsletter story, SCRI used a quote from John Willkie, a member of the ATSC committee and John has asked if we would publish his response since he disagrees with implication that ATSC MDTV (M/H) is mainly “hype” – here is his response verbatim:

“Like the folks at SCRI, I have been a little surprised at the hyped-up marketing and other materials on the ATSC MDTV (also known as ATSC M/H for mobile/handheld) which have included such breathless statements as MDTV could save terrestrial broadcasting. I am reminded of an ‘article’ I read in one of the trade publications earlier in this decade that pronounced all a station needed to make money with HDTV was to buy a particular vendor’s new cameras. However, I found a new plateau of surprise when late last week, a SCRI marketing message quoted out of context and without advance permission, something I posted to an email list devoted to the post-production industry, and placed my comment under a headline that said ATSC MDTV was ‘mostly hype.’

It is true that ATSC MDTV, when released as a standard, is not likely to lead to a significant boost in sales of traditional audio/video equipment. But, the ‘mostly hype’ conclusion is a disservice to the many people that have worked hard for several years on the powerful and largely underestimated A/153 candidate standard. Thanks to the good offices of the ATSC, I have been fortunate to participate in some small way in that work for the last year or so and I am adding to the EtherGuide Emissary PSIP generator the ability to generate the metadata needed to signal simulcast MDTV content and to announce services and television programs.

Broadcasters who opt to transmit MDTV content will give mobile media services what amounts to the first marketplace launch in the world, harnessing the power of 8-VSB transmission, familiar local and national content at a cost far below the infrastructure and presentation costs of competing non-broadcast services such as Flo.Tv (formerly MediaFlo.)

While MDTV might appear to be simply digital television receivable on hand-held devices like smartphones, upon closer inspection, one can fairly state that MDTV provides to digital broadcasters a set of tools that, when compared to television, remind one of the new tools television provided to radio broadcasters. Optional Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) will enable broadcasters to transmit media services comprised of presentation graphics such as real-time traffic maps that could appear in vehicle navigation systems. Optional Scalable Video coding (SVC) will provide the ability to transmit on-screen graphics separate from underlying video content and other combinations that are almost unimaginable today. The MDTV service guide will enable broadcasters to provide images and even short clips to populate the electronic Service Guide. The optional Java-based Application Framework will provide the front-end power for users to interact with stations and content providers directly from their receiving device, and the optional IP-based ‘return channel’ enables that communication to occur in real-time via any wired or wireless Internet connection. The gear needed to provide these functionalities not only is not traditional production equipment; as none of it exists today, it provides opportunities for vendors and developers to create new generations of storytelling tools and systems and interact with viewers in ways quite unlike ‘your grandmother’s television.’

To be sure, many if not most broadcasters transmitting MDTV services will, at least initially, simply simulcast via MDTV the same television services found in the main portion of their transport streams, just as many television broadcasts 60 years ago were largely ‘radio with pictures.’ Recent market surveys indicate that younger viewers are spending less time with television than did or do their parents. MDTV, to my eye, provides all the tools broadcasters need to engage with thumb-typing young viewers via the smartphones and video-equipped cell phones that are central to their lives.

I thank SCRI for the opportunity to clarify and extend the comments previously attributed to me. There is too much hype in the professional video marketplace, but ATSC MDTV is far from being ‘mainly hype.’”

SCRI has no position or vested interest in the outcome of any technology or the state-of-the-industry in general. SCRI is an independent research firm, not affiliated with NAB or any other trade publishing group or manufacturer. We just report what we find out from our extensive interviews with end-user facilities across the eight vertical markets we track annually – current edition is the 2009-20010 Broadcast / Pro Video Product & Marketplace Reports.

SCRI 2009 - 2010 Broadcast/Pro Video Product & Market Reports

2009 - 2010 Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports
(25 Separate Product Reports -- click on arrow)

2009-2010 Broadcast/Pro Video Macro Industry Overview Report

2009-2010 Broadcast/Pro Video Micro Quantitative Product Data Report