CBS Coming Close to Putting Local Stations on Mobile?

That big sweet spot of commerce and media must still be at the wild intersection where video meets local meets mobile meets live. It appears CBS stations in New York and Los Angeles are leaping to get there.

A story at today says WCBS in New York and KCBS in Los Angeles have been testing mobile video streaming of their signal to a select group of about 100 people in each city. The big news, especially to broadcasters, is that the system it’s using from Syncbak would allow mobile customers to watch CBS --without using an antenna or any other device.

The legal hoop stations have to jump through is that they are contractually allowed to air programs only within their own markets.



The Syncbak system apparently does that, leaving customers at the curb when the mobile user ventures outside the station’s assigned area, usually a radius of about 50 miles or so around the center city.

The reason for the prohibition has a lot to do with syndication rights of reruns and daytime talk shows. The Detroit station that paid million for the rights to, say, “Dr. Phil” or “Two and a Half Men” reruns don’t want its viewers watching those shows on mobile phone watching a channel that’s based in Chicago.

Reportedly, while those tests are going on in Los Angeles and New York, Nielsen is monitoring the platform to assure it can track viewership, which would be a huge step to monetizing the system.

If all goes well, Newscheck said CBS might go live with the Syncbak system by this spring. 

No network has yet granted rights to its affiliates to stream programming on the Internet or mobile networks. It  looks like CBS might be ready to do it, giving stations a huge advantage with advertisers and viewers in their markets. One probable stumbling block would be sports programming, including the NFL, which present thornier licensing problems.  

TVNewscheck says Syncbak’s technology is already being used experimentally by 50 stations in 30 markets, and another 125 stations in 63 markets will soon join in.

Syncbak uses a phone’s GPS capability to keep track of where the mobile viewer is. That “geo-fencing” capability can monitor when a viewer can, and can’t get it. It’s already an app on iPhone and Android systems, but stations aren't showing their entire schedule over the phone, yet. An Allentown, Pa. independent station, WFMZ, says its Syncbak app also allows the user to use it as a DVR for station programs.




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