Monday, 11 August 2008

Mobile Tv going in Hibernation!

Earlier this month, there was this report which mentioned that 'Mobile 3.0' (a consortium in Germany) decided to end plans to launch a DVB-H (handheld) network. The failure was blamed to some extent on the wireless service providers who were not abole to get their act together to establish a paid DVB-H infrastructure.

The following is an extract from the article:

Burda and Holtzbrink, both publishing houses, and South African media company Naspers have thrown in the towel and won't launch a DVB-H network in Europe, the reports said.

Their effort wasn't helped when service providers said they plan to introduce mobile TV devices that use the free DVB-T technology. Noting that subscribers aren't likely to favor the idea of paying for TV on top of their often hefty wireless charges, service provider Vodafone has said it favors a mobile TV strategy whereby consumers pay for add-on video services that are offered in conjunction with free mobile TV. Mobile 3.0 had planned to charge monthly fees of as much as $10 to $15.

The Mobile 3.0 group had begun testing a service with nine TV channels and three radio stations.

The German situation isn't likely to influence the delivery of mobile TV in the United States, which is still in its embryonic stage. To date, no major third-party providers of mobile TV have emrged in the United States.

According to a report in Mobile burn the same day as the above news:

Toshiba announced that it was shutting down Mobile Broadcasting Corp. at the end of March 2009, stating that the company has not gained enough subscribers due in large part to the popularity of the free TV broadcasting that many of Japan's phones are now capable of receiving (and even recording).

The situation is different on many levels in the U.S. The nation's two largest carriers, AT&T and Verizon Wireless, both use Qualcomm's MediaFLO (definition) mobile TV standard on their TV compatible cell phones. While different technically, MediaFLO and DVB-H work on the same basic premiss of broadcasting a separate, mobile optimized digital TV signal over the air that compatible devices can receive. Since AT&T and Verizon more or less control the handset models that are available to its customers, much as is the case with German carriers, the two have been able to steer subscribers into using the MediaFLO system while avoiding competition from devices that could otherwise pick up free broadcast TV signals. Similarly, Sprint offers a streaming TV service on most of its handsets. T-Mobile currently offers no integrated TV support to its customers.

Then we had the bad news about Mobile Tv in Korea:

Some new numbers on mobile TV's non-pickup in Korea...more specifically, the TV broadcasting using digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) format. The story says DMB, which includes the free terrestrial and premium satellite DMB-- has an audience of some 13.7 million, according to latest data. That's up from nine million in December last year. The number of DMB-enabled receivers sold here reached 13.69 million in June.

-- Mobile phones accounted for 48.4 percent of all DMB subscribers.-- Car navigation systems and other DMB-enabled terminals used in vehicles accounted for 37.8 percent of DMB receivers, followed by portable media players at 9.4 percent and USB devices at 3.8 percent.?Laptop computers were the least popular DMB device, accounting for just 0.9 percent of all receivers.

Bu the overall viewership numbers remain minuscule: TNS Media, a local research firm, overall viewer rating for the day was just 1.172 percent, peaking at 3.585 percent during the commuting hours of 6 to 7 p.m. in the survey. And, even more surprising: male viewers in their 50s proved the largest audience for mobile TV rather than the convention wisdow that tech-savvy youngsters would be watching TV on the go. Viewership was also relatively high among men in their 40s and 30s, but minuscule among women and younger customers.

We have completely stopped hearing anything new on MBMS. There is no news on Mobile TV trials. I think that Mobile Tv is going in Hibernation and will be for some time, until some killer charging models are in place for these kinds of services.


Anonymous said...

You said: "I think that Mobile Tv is going in Hibernation and will be for some time".
...I would says inversely that what this post shows it that Mobile Tv is actually gaining momentum! But the free version of course... It was obvious from the beginning that people would never pay for something that has always been free to a large extent (TV, radio). But operators have always thought they could apply a model similar to telephony, which is something completely different in nature and usage.
In the very next future we will see more and more devices (not phones) capable of receiving free mobile TV, and more and more adopters.

Zahid Ghadialy said...

Hi Peter,

We are effectively saying the same thing. I said, "I think that Mobile Tv is going in Hibernation and will be for some time, until some killer charging models are in place for these kinds of services."

Free version of the service is also a 'killer charging model' and its viable if its supported by advertisements but are the operators ready to gamble on this?

The same goes for the other future devices (not phones) that will be able to receive free stuff but the operators or for that reason some independent media company will have to make a start by broadcasting something and guaranteeing its continuity.