MetroPCS said today it is partnering with a consortium of broadcasters to bring live local television to its wireless customers later this year.
The prepaid mobile service provider is working with Mobile Content Venture, a group of companies with a string of local broadcast networks, to bring the content through a service called Dyle Mobile TV. Samsung Electronics will make the first smartphone to use the Dyle app, although the company hasn't divulged the handset's name.
Broadcast companies have long been looking to get into the mobile television business. More importantly, the companies needed a reason to keep their spectrum, which the wireless industry has been eyeing, and have collectively pushed for the mobile TV service. The wireless industry has argued that since most consumers get their television from cable or satellite sources, the broadcast spectrum should be repurposed for mobile use.
Enter MetroPCS, which is eager to offer a service to set itself apart from the other prepaid options in the market. While Leap Wireless has done well with its Muve streaming music service, MetroPCS is opting to go with live local television on the phone.
"We're excited to be the first mobile service provider to deliver a unique entertainment offering like Dyle, but more important than being first is our belief that this service will meet the needs of our customers and deliver an exceptional mobile experience," said Tom Keys, chief operating officer of MetroPCS.
The service will include content from 15 major broadcast group, including Fox, NBC, Pearl, Univision, and Telemundo. Mobile Content Venture didn't give a date for the service's launch but said it will cover 32 markets and more than half the U.S. population.
It's unclear, however, just how much demand exists for live television on the phone. Qualcomm made a major effort to push its MediaFLO live TV service, including getting the feature on Verizon Wireless and AT&T phones, yet ultimately scrapped the business due to anemic reception.
MetroPCS, Mobile Content Venture, and Samsung will show off the Dyle live TV service at the Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas.
Correction at 7:57 a.m. PT: The name of the Samsung smartphone hasn't been released yet.