Local News & Info Are Mobile DTV's Big Draws In DC Test

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Local news and weather is the most popular programming among several hundred tire-kickers on mobile DTV in the Washington, D.C. area.

That is according to the150 Sprint customers that turned in their phones for specially modified Samsung Moment phones to tune into D.C. area TV stations testing the service, which broadcastsers hope will give them a piece of the mobile video market.

Viewing by the test group turned out to be haeviest during the work week, and includes "stealth viewing" says Open Mobile Video Coalition executive director Anne Schelle Anne Schelle, who cited a soap watcher on her lunch break and a woman whose child's school event was sufficiently boring that she opted for TV instead.

She said that most of the viewing appeared to be additive, with folks extending their in-home viewing out of home, say, while on the morning commute, or waiting in line at the grocery store. She also said that emergency information was a key draw, citing spikes in use during the recent Discovery Channel stand-off in nearby Bethesda.

OMVC president and Ion Media CEO Brandon Burgess said in announcing the midterm feedback from the sample group that it indicates that live local programming is what viewers most want, which is the result broadcasters are looking for since it separates their service from video services already offered on smart phones.

The service is also being tested on Netbooks and LG DVD players as well through Oct. 30, bringing the total test group to about 350.

The Samsung Moment part of the test is over, and Schelle says the users were reluctant to give up their phones with the DTV tuner chips.

The test was primarily about getting feedback to show advertisers and others how people would use mobile TV service, rather than about the technology, which is definitely a beta test and work in progress, Schelle suggested.
OMVC's finding seemed to square with a just-released Pew research study showing that local TV is still the news source of choice for a majority of Americans.

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