The Mobile Content Venture, owned by 12 major broadcast-television groups, has signed on a third consumer-electronics partner: Elgato, which plans to create an antenna plug-in accessory for smartphones and tablets to receive the broadcasters' Dyle-branded mobile digital TV services.
Elgato's EyeTV Mobile TV accessory -- which has a retractable antenna -- and app will be certified as Dyle-enabled, letting users watch encrypted, live TV broadcasts from Dyle partner stations as well as unencrypted mobile TV channels from other broadcasters. The product is slated to be available in the U.S. later in 2012.
Using the ATSC Mobile DTV standard, the participating Dyle companies are currently broadcasting mobile television from more than 90 stations in 35 markets, reaching approximately 55% of the U.S. population.
But like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest with no one around the hear it, today there aren't any Dyle-compatible devices on the market to receive those signals.
Earlier this year, MCV announced a deal with MetroPCS Communications, which plans to offer an Android-based Samsung phone with Mobile DTV support later this year. The venture also is working with Belkin to create a dongle for tablets and smartphones, similar to what Elgato is planning to launch.
Dyle-compatible devices should hit the market sometime before Christmas, said Salil Dalvi, co-general manager of MCV and NBCU's senior vice president of digital distribution.
"The goal is to include lots of manufacturers and wireless carriers in the Dyle ecosystem," Dalvi said. "Candidly, it's going to take some time... We have to prove that this is a great experience for consumers."
MCV is a joint venture of Fox, NBCU, Ion Television and the Pearl group of broadcasters, which comprises Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, Media General, Meredith, Post-Newsweek Stations and Raycom Media. Other broadcasters participating in Dyle include Univision Communications, Bahakel Communications, LIN Media, and some ABC and CBS affiliates.
Elgato, based in Munich, Germany, with U.S. offices in San Francisco, sells TV and video solutions for the Mac, PC, iPhone and iPad, including a line of TV tuners with software for watching and recording TV.
MCV's strategy is to persuade mobile-device makers to embed mobile DTV antennas and software into their products. At this point, there doesn't appear to be consumer demand for a standalone mobile TV device, said Erik Moreno, the other co-GM of MCV and senior VP of corporate development at the Fox Networks Group.
"A single-purpose mobile TV device is not a reality anymore," he said, comparing Dyle to the famous "Intel Inside" ingredient-branding strategy.
Dyle is using "industry-standard technology for everything we do," Dalvi added.
Last week, the Open Mobile Video Coalition, backed by 36 commercial broadcast station groups and public broadcasters, issued guidelines for mobile digital TV devices that provide conditional access as well as audience-measurement features.
Dyle requires conditional access for audience measurement, and Dalvi said the OMVC and Dyle "are very much aligned on the approach to conditional access generally."