Dyle, the mobile TV service that works on smartphones but doesn’t use the cellular network, is beginning to have critical mass – in terms of broadcaster support, at least. Mobile Content Venture, the joint venture of several TV broadcasters that operates Dyle, said yesterday that the service is now available to 57% of U.S. households as the result of the company’s latest rollout to three new markets.
How many people are using the service is still closely guarded information, however. MCV today declined to provide any information about how many devices supporting the offering have been sold or about how many minutes per week, on average, end users are watching the service. An MCV spokeswoman did note, however, that the venture has enlisted Rentrak to do some audience measurements for Dyle, adding that MCV “hopes to share data at some point from this partnership.”
The Dyle service uses TV broadcast spectrum that was freed up through the digital conversion completed in 2009. Each broadcaster wishing to support the Dyle offering must invest in new broadcast infrastructure.
The service is currently available in 70% of the top 50 markets, according to MCV. The company spokeswoman said the service currently supports an average of four to six stations in the markets in which it is available.
MetroPCS is still the only cellular carrier offering a smartphone that works with Dyle, the spokeswoman said. But she noted that two companies – Escort and Elgato — currently offer accessories enabling the service to work on iOS devices, regardless of the end user’s wireless carrier. And Escort plans to develop an Android version of its Dyle offering.
“Dyle has a very active social media presence on Twitter and Facebook,” the spokeswoman noted. The social accounts, she said, offer contests and giveaways to get more consumers interested in the Dyle offering and its ease of use. In addition she noted that “the channels work to promote the Dyle service and its unique qualities.”
MCV appears undaunted by a couple of potential market threats to the Dyle service.
One is the impending voluntary broadcast spectrum auction. Some TV broadcasters are expected to relinquish some or all their spectrum holdings in exchange for a cut of the auction proceeds. Broadcasters that have made the investment to support Dyle appear unlikely to choose that option. But those other broadcasters that do sell even part of their spectrum could be putting themselves in a position where they will be unable to support Dyle.
Also unclear is whether T-Mobile will continue to offer Dyle-ready devices if the carrier is able to pull off its plan to acquire MetroPCS. The MCV spokeswoman declined to comment on that topic.