Tablet TV Eyes Fall Debut

It’s not Aereo, Syncbak or Dyle, but a new service being developed aims to deliver broadcast TV signals to tablets, with a nice kicker — an integrated DVR and a premiumlevel video-on-demand service that also rides the digital airwaves.

Tablet TV, a venture of Motive Television and Granite Broadcasting, is planning a fall launch of a service that leans on a separate device it calls a “T-Pod” to capture over-the-air TV signals, integrate DVR storage and obtain on-demand fare via datacasting, a technology that uses broadcast spectrum to deliver data. That means a traditional Internet connection won’t be required.

“We call, and consider, this the first complete television service for tablets,” Luc Tomasino, Tablet TV’s launch director, said.

Tablet TV is also looking to ride atop some trends that are flowing in its favor — a growing base of tablet users, the fact that the most popular shows come from broadcast TV and a continued surge of subscription VOD services like Netflix.

The T-Pod is a wireless dongle that transmits the signal to the tablet, which when paired with the Tablet TV app, presents the guide and bakes in social- media components and other features that will underpin the service. The device will come with 7 Gigabytes of storage and a slot for an SD card, but Tablet TV can also take advantage of the innate storage in the user’s tablet.

Tablet TV hasn’t announced any content deals for its subscription-VOD service, which it expects to sell for $7.99 to $8.99 per month, but said it’s in talks with major studios and content providers. “This is being done respecting the existing [VOD distribution] windows that are in place,” Tomasino said. “It will be accretive to all players.”

Some revenue will come from the sale of T-Pods (the company expects them to sell for less than $100 each), but the anticipated lifeblood of the business will fl ow from display advertising, ads inserted into VOD content, and transactional and subscription VOD revenue.

Tomasino said the plan is to launch Tablet TV to consumers sometime this fall. The company intends to sell the service via its website and via its relationships with affiliated broadcast partners, which will get a cut of the VOD advertising revenue and receive a fixed fee for promoting Tablet TV. The company does not plan to sell the service through such retailers as Best Buy and RadioShack.

The objective is to get off the ground in the top 10 U.S. markets. “We could launch without an affiliate [in a given market], but that’s not what we want,” Tomasino said.

“We’re going to be opportunistic,” added Jeffrey Reiss, a pay TV industry vet and advisor who is on the board of both Tablet TV and Motive Television.

Tablet TV is currently beta-testing the datacasting technology with KOFY, a Graniteowned station in San Francisco. It has also engaged Frank N. Magid Associates to conduct market research to help it get a fix on the consumer segments the Tablet TV proposition will most resonate with.

The 18-to-34 age group is Tablet TV’s likely target, Reiss said, noting that the company believes it will appeal to consumers who are on the go or want an additional outlet in the home. “But we’ll rely on the research to tell us,” he said.