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Mobile TV is not picking up

Recent news articles indicate that mobile TV service is not picking up. According to Rapid TV News most European telcos have abandoned their plans to promote mobile TV service – be it through the DVB-H broadcast technology or through 3G data channels. FierceWireless informs that after having trialed live mobile TV service for 12 months, the BBC decided to halt it and initiate a wide review of its plan of syndication of linear TV channels to mobile and other platforms. Two facts are stressed as related to this decision – the small number of users attracted by the service, and the ongoing success of BBC’s existing iPlayer service, which is already available via 3G and Wi-Fi.

In my opinion this development is no surprise. I see at least two very strong reasons why mobile TV service is a very hard sell.

One is the lack of target audience. What is the target demographic for this service? Potential viewers can be divided into two broad groups – the younger generation and the older generation. The younger generation has completely adapted to using modern technology as part of daily life. They can easily operate a mobile phone to tune to mobile TV if they want to, however they have a strong tendency to view content-on-demand and time-shift TV rather than linear TV. The older generation is the natural audience of linear TV, however educating them to watch it on a mobile phone rather than on the TV set in the living room is a tough task.

The other is the achievable quality. TV sets and PCs provide a much better viewing experience than a mobile phone can. The screen is much bigger and shows much more detail, and audio reproduction is better. Although it is very desirable to view short clips on the mobile phone between friends, it makes no sense to expect people to watch complete programs of linear TV this way.

It is obvious that BBC’s iPlayer is a much better attempt than mobile TV at becoming a successful mobile service of TV video content.

Do not agree? I am very interested to read your view.

2 comments to Mobile TV is not picking up

  • Hello Opher,

    nice seeing that we share common interests ! Do you thing Mobile TV over WiFi could be a good solution for an airport ? I know airports are investigating in this direction .



  • Hello Marc,

    Thank you for your comment. I believe that mobile TV service in general is a hard sell, independently of the technology used. However, specific verticals and niche markets can still exist. Airports may be such a case, as people at airports typically have some waiting time to kill, and a readily available TV service will certainly be attractive to them. On the other hand, most travelers do not have WiFi enabled devices with them, and in particular the important audience of young people and kids. And in addition, what is the business case? Will people pay for TV access for the short period they are in the airport?

    I think the question is interesting, with many conflicting facets and no easy answer. A thorough analysis is necessary to come up with a good answer.


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