Belkin is the latest CE company to launch a specialized antenna/receiver that supports a mobile television platform from Dyle that’s being increasingly viewed as a competitive hedge against Aereo.
Belkin on Wednesday introduced the F5L110, a $129.99 device that snaps into Apple iPhones and iPads. When paired with the free Dyle app, those devices can capture Dyle’s mobile TV signals in select markets. The Belkin device, offered online at Belkin.com and Amazon.com, joins an existing antenna/dongle lineup that also includes the Escort MobileTV Receiver and the Elgato EyeTV Mobile TV Tuner.
“The Belkin accessory, in combination with the Dyle app, turns the large existing base of iOS smartphone and tablet devices in the market today into portable TVs,” said Salil Dalvi and Erik Moreno, co-general managers of the Mobile Content Venture (MCV), a broadcaster-backed J.V. that operates Dyle, in a statement. “We have worked hard to amass a large coalition of broadcasting partners to offer live programming that consumers want. It’s an exciting development in the progress of mobile TV as we continue to give consumers choice across various mobile devices and platforms.”
Dyle doesn’t provide its mobile service over broadband or cellular networks, but instead uses a portion of the traditional broadcast spectrum to deliver an encrypted, live digital-TV signal that’s optimized for mobile devices. The company estimates that broadcasters must spend about $100,000 on upgrades, primarily encoders, to deliver the mobile TV feed alongside the primary HDTV broadcast signal.
Dyle is currently available in 37 U.S. markets that cover about 57% of the U.S. population. But, based on Dyle's agreements with broadcasters, the service typically supports only a subset of the available over-the-air digital TV channels in those markets. Dyle is is backed by 12 major broadcast groups, including Belo, Cox Media Group, Raycom Media, Media General, Meredith Corp., ION Television, Fox, E.W. Scripps, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, and NBC.
Dyle is just one of several emerging mobile options for broadcasters, which are locked in a court battle with Aereo centered on copyright claims.
Syncbak, which recently landed fresh funding from CBS, partners with broadcasters to deliver broadband simulcasts over cellular and broadband networks. Syncbak founder and CEO Jack Perry told Multichannel News last month (subscription required) that the company’s platform is being tested on more than 100 TV stations in 70 markets. Perry hopes to have his system deployed by 500 stations by the end of 2013.
ABC, meanwhile, is embarking on a different path with the launch of the Watch ABC app. That app, offered initially as a free preview in New York and Philadelphia through June, will restrict access to authenticated pay-TV subscribers. The initial slate of ABC Watch partners include Comcast, Cablevision Systems, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent Communications and AT&T U-verse.