Could Dyle save broadcasters from Aereo?

Steve Donohue, FierceCable

Aereo continues to draw more attention with its online video platform, but a bigger player worth keeping an eye on is Dyle, a mobile video company that is backed by NBC, Fox and other broadcasters that are attempting to shut down Aereo.

While Aereo uses arrays of dime-sized antennas to capture local broadcast signals and transmit programming to viewers on mobile devices via HTML5, Dyle is relying on over-the-air antennas that viewers can attach to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad and iPhone, and other mobile devices. And it already has a much bigger reach than Aereo. Earlier this week, Dyle announced that it will be available to 57 percent of the U.S. population through launches in dozens of cities. It also added several new affiliates, including CBS Corp. flagship WCBS-TV, which is among the broadcasters suing Aereo for alleged copyright infringement.

Dyle may also be used eventually to distribute authenticated TV Everywhere content from cable programmers and operators. Salil Dalvi, an NBCUniversal SVP and co-general manager of Dyle, said at a FierceCable panel session in Las Vegas on Tuesday that Dyle could help distribute cable programming to mobile devices. He said Dyle already has an authentication platform that could be used by cable programmers, and that it may be more efficient to distribute cable programming to mobile devices using broadcast signals than relying on cellular networks or the Internet.

It's worth noting that NBCU is owned by Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), the industry's biggest TV Everywhere proponent. That could help put Dyle is a position to distribute TV Everywhere programming from Comcast's Xfinity lineup to cable subscribers. Will Comcast eventually bundle Dyle antennas with its triple-play bundles? Stay tuned.  

But there are some drawbacks to Dyle. It does require users to be able to receive content from broadcast towers. It is easier for cable TV Everywhere app users and Aereo customers to receive programming, since they can access content on any device with an Internet connection. But Dyle's biggest challenge may be getting viewers with high-end products like an iPad to accept the idea of attaching a bulky over-the-air antenna to the devices. -Steve