Why go through the Internet to watch TV on the go?

Attendees look at a display of Samsung televisions during the 2013 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Instead of streaming movies and shows on your smartphone over Wi-Fi, why not watch them over the same transmitters that send signals to your television? Mobile TV, which makes use of special add-ons for mobile devices, may be the next key development for broadcasters.

"A great example is the Today show," says Anne Schelle, partner at Acta Wireless who is leading the panel on mobile TV at the National Association of Broadcasters convention this week. "You know in the morning, you get up, and you want to walk right out the door and keep watching it, you can do that with this device."

What you see on the mobile screen would be the same image you’d see live on your TV, and in real time. That’s because mobile TV is driven by the powerful signal coming out the TV transmitter, not by Wi-Fi or cellphone services like 3G or LTE.

"This enables consumers to have unfettered access," says Shelle. "You don't have to have a data plan, you don't have the same buffering issues."

Fisher Communications has been testing mobile TV on some of their stations in Washington State and Minnesota. Randa Minkarah, senior vice president of revenue and business development at Fisher, says a customer could get an add-on device with a small antenna that plugs into a USB port on, say, an iPad.

"And then you are free to start watching television, the device will scan and pick up the channels available," Minkarah says. "And if you go to another market, you open it up and you scan and you pick up those channels."

Minkarah says her company's been gathering audience data. Ahead of her panel at the NAB convention tomorrow, she would only say that Fisher is "very excited" about the early returns.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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