Carriers’ Data Caps May Help Mobile Live TV Efforts Gain Interest

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Dyle Mobile TV – remember this? That’s the consumer-facing brand for a new mobile TV service from Mobile Content Venture (MCV), a group of broadcasters that includes FOX, NBC, ION Television, Bahakel, Univision, Telemundo, and Pearl LLC (Pearl is: Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media). Earlier this year, the company promised the first Dyle Mobile TV handset would arrive on MetroPCS sometime in 2012. That’s still in the works, if you’re curious. Now the company is attempting to drum up consumer interest with the results of a new survey indicating consumer desire for such a service.

In its “Dyle Mobile TV report” released this month, the company tapped a third-party research firm to poll a representative sample of 510 U.S. consumers, ages 18-54 to find out how they watch TV and video, and more importantly, whether they would be interested in a live, mobile TV service on their handset. And surprise, surprise, survey says yes. But maybe for once, survey isn’t lying?

After all, if I remember correctly, there were a few excited comments about Dyle’s original announcement.

According to the survey data, 26% of those asked had streamed video on a mobile device over the past thirty days, 22% on an iPad or tablet. 68% said they would probably watch more TV if they had access to a live, mobile TV service and 61% even said they were somewhat or very likely to switch to get it.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of self-serving reports like this, but one thing jumped out at me when I spoke with Erik Moreno, Co- General Manager of MCV and Senior VP of Corporate Development at Fox Networks Group – and that’s the timing of the launch, in light of the crackdowns on mobile carriers’ “unlimited” data offerings, and the expense of getting all your devices under one umbrella.

Dyle’s planned service would operate in a parallel network to that of the carriers. “We’re moving into a data cap world, where even watching YouTube or watching Netflix on your cell phone, or on your tablet if you’re on an LTE network, is going to cost you and it’s going to cost you a lot,” says Moreno, “and consumers are waking up to that fact. We’re going to be showing up an alternative.”

MCV still won’t announce the launch date or model of the MetroPCS phone (it’s 4.5-inch Android device coming “soon,” meaning “months” UPDATE: it’s the Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G). It’s also planning to offer dongles for iOS devices, and the company is working with tablet OEMs and auto companies in order to support more form factors. Pricing on what all this will cost you is still vague (dongles should be “the price of an iPad case,” we’re told, but that can be a wide range.)

But these things might hit at a good time for consumers. We’re bumping into our data caps left and right around here, YouTube alone eats away at 25% of mobile network data, and audio and video streaming account for more than half of mobile data in North America. If Dyle can hit the sweet spot in its own pricing, it could help make live TV still matter in a world where time-shifted and on-demand programming now has consumer mindshare.

“Live television,” Moreno says,  “it may be old, it may be stodgy, but it’s at least familiar.”

Aww, poor ol’ live TV, I almost feel bad for it now.