Local TV Stations Failing to Maximize Fully on Their Allotted Spectrum

– Mobile TV in a Few Markets in Q4 but Where Are the Devices?
– Little Compelling Content on Multicasts
– No Electronic Program Guide
– Hiding Their OTA Light under a Basket

Widespread cord cutting, or not ever connecting it to begin with for the young, is based on two premises. The local TV stations will supply the major networks with their still-popular TV shows, news and major sports plus perhaps some additional targeted TV and mobile TV. The OTT services will supply more movies and recorded TV shows than the average consumer can watch.

The local stations are falling down on their end of the unwritten bargain.

Anytime the topic of cutting the cord in the States comes up, it’s necessary to report that local TV stations are each broadcasting two to four channels for free to TV sets with over-the-air antennas (OTA). That means consumers can get all the major networks — NBC, Fox, CBS, ABC and CW — for free. The majors don’t dominate TV viewing like they used to, but offer most major sporting events and good but limited news reporting, both national and local.

A consumer with an OTA antenna and a Blu-ray player or smart TV that gets Netflix and other online video services would find that he can get more than he can watch. It might not be everything he wants when he wants it but it would absorb all his available viewing hours.

Many local stations are reluctant to trumpet their over-the-air channels because they are now collecting cash from the pay-TV companies for transmitting their channel.

This week we reported that Channel Master is offering a DVR for OTA antennas and it does not require a monthly subscription fee. It has all the DVR functions that might be expected. Perhaps local TV stations should buy a few thousand Channel Master DVRs and OTA antennas and give them away as part of an OTT promotion. Now that might open a few eyeballs.

The FCC wants to take back some of the spectrum that local TV stations have the rights to and auction it off for mobile broadband. If that happens, the local TV stations could lose some of their local channels and, perhaps more importantly, the ability to offer mobile TV. It’s a project they’ve been working on for several years and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says its time is drawing near. It expects that mobile TVs from the likes of Samsung and LG will be in stores by year-end. The mobile TV service, which uses mobile DTV technology, is already available in a number of cities but only on prototype receivers.

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