Mobile TV: A Fleeting Glimpse

On the train into New York this morning, I heard a most familiar tune: the opening theme song to Nickelodeon’s The Backyardigans.

In the New Jersey Transit three-seater next to me was a mother and her two daughters (going in to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, perhaps? I didn’t find that out). They were watching Mom’s brand-new Verizon Wireless phone from Motorola, which was set up to receive the eight live TV channels from Qualcomm’s MediaFLO — including Nick.

If there’s an ideal use case for mobile TV, this was it. Two bored girls, probably 5 and 7, looking for something to do instead of staring at the rows of dazed morning commuters.

"Yooouuuuurrr backyard friends, The Backyardigans!" I detected happiness and joy emanating from all three of them.

And then, not 5 minutes later, the perfect use case came to a screeching halt.

"Mom," said the older daughter, nonplussed and disappointed, "it stopped!" The train had just zoomed into the tube under the Hudson River. End of show. Mom explained why the TV cut out; fortunately the Backyardigans plot hadn’t had time to thicken.

As we pulled into Penn Station, I confirmed with the mother that they had been watching Verizon’s V CAST Mobile TV. She was, she said, "testing it out" for a month to see how useful it proved to be.

"It’s great," she said, then laughed: "Except when you lose the signal!"