TabletTV, a joint venture of Motive Television and Granite Broadcasting, has begun to take orders for a subscription-free service that will enable tablet owners to receive dozens of broadcast TV channels without need for an Internet or cellular connection or a traditional pay-TV service.
TabletTV, which is debuting in San Francisco under a partnership with Granite-owned station KOFY-TV, is selling a start-up kit that includes an $89.95 “T-Pod” unit and an iOS-compatible app. The company expects to introduce an app for Android-powered tablets in 2015, and is also looking to extend support to a range of smartphones and “phablet” models, as well.
TabletTV is selling the kit online, but noted that shipping will start “as soon as possible,” as the date is subject to schedules determined by Amazon, which is providing TabletTV’s fulfillment services.
The T-Pod, which acts as an antenna tuner, captures free, over-the-air TV signals for display on tablets that are outfitted with the TableTV app, estimating that owners will have access to as many as 50 digital broadcast network and local channels, including local ABC, CBS, Fox, and PBS feeds (so long as the user has access to a decent over-the-air digital TV signal).
The T-Pod also allows users to record programming to an integrated DVR and, and weaves in social media from sources such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Earlier this year, company execs told Multichannel News (subscription required) that the T-Pod will come with 7 gigabytes of storage and a slot for an SD card, noting that users can also take advantage of a tablet’s on-board storage.
Next year, TabletTV intends to add a video-on-demand component, including premium movies and subscription-based services, that are delivered to the T-Pod using datacasting, a technology that relies on broadcast spectrum to deliver data. As for other revenue sources, TabletTV has outlined plans to sell display advertising on its app and to sell ads that can be inserted into VOD content.
TabletTV, which is starting to roll roughly a month after Aereo filed for bankruptcy and as Aereo continues to battle with broadcasters, said it has begun to market the service in San Francisco using a mix of digital and social media, and TV spots on KOFY-TV and the local Bay Area MeTV affiliate. Following its debut in San Francisco, TabletTV expects to roll its service out to “major markets across the U.S.,” but didn’t identify which markets are next in line.