Granite Tests TV Anywhere Tech

As cable operators push to deploy services that deliver multichannel TV to multiple devices, broadcasters have also been looking to capitalize on the growing popularity of tablets, smartphones and other devices for video, producing what some vendors have called a “gold rush” in app development.

Few broadcasters, however, have gone as far as Granite Broadcasting. The company recently announced it would be working with U.K. software provider Motive Television on a wide-ranging test that would deliver content from Granite’s San Francisco market indie station KOFY-TV to PCs, tablets and other devices in viewers’ homes.

Peter Markham, chairman and CEO of Granite Broadcasting, notes that digital delivery has been an important priority for the company for the last two years and in early May they launched the first apps for their local newscasts. “We want to be in the forefront of testing how we can get content into consumers’ hands in all the different ways and on all the different devices that people want to use,” Markham says.

In San Francisco, Granite will be testing an ATSC version of Motive’s TV Anywhere and its TV Anytime products. TV Anytime allows broadcasters to deliver on-demand content, virtual channel and targeted advertising into the home with their terrestrial signals. The TV Anywhere solution is a software product that allows content available on one device in the home—such as a DVR, iPad or a connected TV—to be watched on any other device via the viewer’s home network.

As part of the test, Motive will be providing homes with a set-top box and working with a research company to decide how many boxes to deploy so they have sufficient data on a variety of subgroups and demos.

Leonard M. Fertig, CEO at Motive Television, notes that their technology has already been successfully deployed in Italy on Mediaset’s popular digital terrestrial TV platform. “We had been looking for a partner in the U.S., and we are very excited to be trialing our technology in the most technologically advanced market in the U.S.,” Fertig says.

Motive is currently finalizing an ATSC version of their product and no fi rm date has been set for the trial beyond the fact that it will occur sometime this year. If the results are positive, Markam notes that they will begin deploying the technology in some of their larger markets, such as Detroit, with the hope of eventually installing the technology in all their stations that produce local news.

The test, however, raises some complex issues about content rights and potential investments in set-top boxes. While Mediaset has deployed set-top boxes for its digital terrestrial TV service in Italy, actual deployments in the U.S. won’t require large investments in set-tops or deals with multichannel operators, Fertig stresses.

Another potential stumbling block for broadcasters eyeing such services is content rights for multiple devices. Motive Television’s lawyers contend that broadcasters will not have to acquire additional content rights to deploy their technologies. “[Our] lawyers say we can do this without violating copyright laws,” Fertig notes. Some programmers, however, have taken a different view and there have already been some lawsuits filed by programmers against cable operators over IPad apps.

That issue won’t, however, affect the San Francisco trial. Granite’s indie station KOFY-TV airs no network programming and produces a great deal of original content. “We can test this without dealing with the networks on rights issues,” Markham says.

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