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Mobile DTV’s Real World Test

Broadcasters who want to build a new business transmitting programs to cellphones and other portable devices will be keeping a close eye on Washington, D.C., this week. But instead of following the ongoing battle over the nation’s spectrum policy, they will be monitoring the Open Mobile Video Coalition’s Mobile DTV Consumer Showcase.

The showcase, which launches May 3 and continues through the summer, is essentially the first real-world test of the technology’s appeal to everyday consumers. Nine local stations will transmit 20 mobile DTV program streams to 200 Sprint subscribers with specially equipped Samsung Moment smartphones; the streams will offer a mix of free local and network broadcast shows along with cable programming from MSNBC, CNBC and others. Separate focus groups will also experience mobile DTV through prototype Dell Netbooks and Valups’ Tivizen, a ‘bridge” device that receives mobile DTV and retransmits it over Wi-Fi to conventional laptops and smartphones.

Rentrak will use cellular and Internet backchannels to measure mobile DTV consumption, while Harris Interactive will gauge consumers’ reaction to the service through online feedback, interviews and focus groups. Findings from the showcase should help inform the business plans of mobile DTV broadcasters, such as the joint venture of 12 station groups formed last month to launch a national mobile content service.