Dyle’s Angle for Cable: Aereo Counter-Attack

Service Beams Live Digital Signals to Mobile Devices
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Dyle, a venture backed by major broadcasters, has developed a system that beams live digital TV signals to mobile devices, a technology that could threaten Aereo — and be of service to cable operators.

Dyle launched services a few months ago and lacks widespread availability and content, but it represents a possible threat to Aereo, which is duking it out in the courts with many of Dyle’s backers. Its ambitions, though, run far deeper than delivering broadcast-TV channels to iPads and other mobile devices: It intends to weave itself into the TV Everywhere ecosystem and partner up with cable MSOs and satellite-TV providers.

Dyle uses a small slice of the traditional broadcast spectrum to deliver an encrypted, live digital-TV signal that’s optimized for mobile devices. Because it uses the broadcast spectrum, users don’t have to eat up cellular minutes or connect to sometimes-congested public Wi-Fi networks when they are watching broadcast television.

Dyle has developed an app for iPads, iPhones and the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy S Lightray smartphone that holds the decryption key. Those devices must also be mated with a specialized antenna/ dongle that can capture the Dyle signals.

One drawback of the Dyle model — for now, at least — is that users must also be in an area covered by a TV station that has forked over about $100,000 on an upgrade (encoders, mostly) to deliver the mobile feed alongside the primary HDTV broadcast signal.

Broadcasters determine the bit rate of the Dyle signal, but it’s usually in the neighborhood of 2 Megabits per second, Salil Dalvi, a senior vice president at NBCUniversal and the co-general manager of Mobile Content Venture, said. MCV is the company behind Dyle that’s supported by 12 major broadcast groups, including Belo, Cox Media Group, Raycom Media, Fox, E.W. Scripps and NBC. Following recent expansions in Baltimore; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Salt Lake City, Dyle estimates that it reaches 57% of U.S. homes. But channel lineups are inconsistent: Some markets have as many as seven, while others have but two.

But these represent early days as Dyle builds out its network of TV stations and devices, and continues to validate its technology, Dalvi said.

The Dyle service is currently free, but the company is developing revenue models. Dyle has explored subscription and targeted-advertising models, but believes its true calling is an authenticated service that can be stitched into pay TV providers’ TV Everywhere platforms, enabling customers to access TV on the go via the best (and least expensive) network available — the Dyle digital broadcast feed, Wi-Fi or cellular.

And Dyle doesn’t have to be limited to broadcast-TV stations. It’s technically possible to carry cable channels on a broadcaster’s slice of mobile-TV spectrum, Dalvi said.

“This is intended to be an integral part of the cable or satellite subscription offering; it’s not intended to compete with that,” he said, noting that Dyle has held talks with cable operators about the concept.

TAKEAWAY

The Dyle wireless-TV service could give cable an anti-Aereo weapon while boosting MSOs’ TV Everywhere offering.

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