Over-the-air video service TabletTV is moving forward with its plans to step into the space left by Aereo, launching in the San Francisco Bay area following several weeks of beta testing.
The company is a joint venture of New York-based Granite Broadcasting Group and UK-based vendor Motive Television.
TabletTV's palm-sized T-Pod antenna. (Image courtesy of TabletTV)
The vendor's star player is its palm-sized T-Pod, a Wi-Fi enabled digital antenna that picks up local ATSC broadcast signals and sends them to a user's tablet. The T-Pod and related iOS app (an Android version won't show up until 2015) retail for $89.95. Its product is currently available to San Francisco-area residents only.
For a number of reasons, TabletTV will likely not run into the legal difficulties that Aereo, ivi.tv, and FilmOn dealt with. Its T-Pod antenna is purchased directly by the consumer and the signal is transmitted directly to the owner's tablet, falling within first-use guidelines defined by the Copyright Act and by a 2008 Cablevision decision. In that light, TabletTV falls closer to TiVo's OTA Roamio DVR in some respects.
TabletTV said that it has partnered with Granite-owned San Fran station KOFY-TV for the launch and implemented an integrated marketing campaign with the station.
Because Granite owns KOFY, no licensing agreement was needed in San Francisco for video on demand programming from the station. TabletTV is running promotional spots on KOFY and the local MeTV affiliate.
The biggest benefit to this arrangement is that TabletTV will be able to use some of KOFY's digital bandwidth to deliver on-demand features to its users. Video on demand and SVOD services are planned and will roll out next year, the company said in its release announcement. TabletTV also said it is negotiating with other local broadcasters to partner with it on VOD and SVOD services. That adds more value to what is otherwise a nifty portable TV setup.
TabletTV, of course, isn't the only antenna-to-mobile-device player in the industry. For example, Dyle unveiled an Audiovox-manufactured mobile TV receiver in late 2013 for its OTA-to-mobile offering. And in August, startup 4SeTV launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its "mosaic" encoder, which allows customers to view up to four OTA broadcast channels at once on their mobile device or TV screen. (The campaign ultimately netted 4SeTV $18,265, less than its $50,000 goal.)
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Updated Dec. 26 to correct and clarify TabletTV's partnership with KOFY-TV and its VOD/SVOD plans.