REPORT: Informa Telecoms & Media predicts 210 million subscribers to mobile TV services by 2011
Is the FIFA World Cup boosting mobile TV and will it be the next hype, after MMS and photo sharing and music download? According to Informa Telecoms & Media, 2006 is the year that the mobile TV picture starts to become clearer. The study, entitled "Mobile TV: Broadcast and Mobile Multimedia", predicts 210 million subscribers by 2011: in that year 10% of all mobile handsets sold will have a broadcast receiver. The soccer World Cup has provided the spark for the launch of a number of broadcast services in Europe, led by 3 in Italy and Debitel in Germany, and Informa Telecoms & Media anticipates that $300m of revenue will come from users accessing streaming and broadcast services over the World Cup.
Mobile TV will ultimately owe its success to the type and format of content that is made available. One of the primary objectives of the broadcast technology trials underway from the likes of BT Movio in the UK and BSkyB and Qualcomm in Europe, is to discover the best type of content for mobile and short-mode use. Two formats are proving most popular. The first, "Mobisodes", uses custom made-for-mobile episodes of hit TV shows, such as "24".
The second, "Simulcast" involves transmitting the same programming users are familiar with from traditional television in real-time or alongside the TV broadcast. The 2006 Fifa World Cup will likely see examples of both formats.
"This year's World Cup will prove a major catalyst for mobile TV growth.
It will give operators a chance to show what they can already do and test
consumer demand. But the real growth will take place over the next five
years. As soon as the 2008 Olympics we'll all be much more prepared to watch
TV on our phones and by the 2010 World Cup the infrastructure will be mature
and one in thirteen mobile phone users worldwide will own a mobile TV
handset," commented David McQueen, Senior Analyst and report author for
Informa Telecoms & Media.
A significant number of technical and business issues have had to be resolved
in order for mobile TV to reach a viable platform from which to launch.
Technical standards for mobile TV have been emerging and the next five years
will see a proliferation of devices operating on different mobile TV technical
standards including DVB-H, MediaFlo and T-DMB. By 2011, Informa Telecoms & Media
forecasts that DVB-H handsets will form the bulk of all broadcast receiver
handset sales (63%), equating to 73 million units, followed by MediaFLO devices
with sales expected to reach 14.5 million.
Since the first broadcast mobile
devices were launched in early 2005 by Samsung and LG for the Korean market, the
size and form factor of the new crop of devices for 2006 has improved
immeasurably. Many of the newer models have swivel screens to allow for
widescreen viewing, and each handset invariably incorporates a high resolution,
high color, anti-glare screen.
Sound quality is of high importance in the device, with stereo speakers added to
most, as it is this characteristic which is perceived as the yardstick of the
overall TV experience irrespective of picture quality. Battery life issues have
largely been resolved; current generation devices can sustain 3-4 hours
continuous playback against a typical user profile of 3 hours use per week,
based on trial information.
Mobile TV engages a significant number of
stakeholders: mobile operators, content providers, broadcasters and handset
providers, and the models for revenue split are still forming as relationships
between mobile operators and content providers develop. Users are unlikely to
pay for premium operator branded TV content in the way that they do for more
conventional mobile content. As with mobile music and gaming, Informa Telecoms &
Media predicts the final revenue splits will be in favor of the content
providers, as users will not pay for mobile TV without the guarantee of
familiar, compelling content.
Mobile TV will be adopted at different rates in
different regions as the necessary broadcast infrastructure is put in place and
as handsets begin to proliferate. Asia-Pacific will lead the way with 95.1
million anticipated subscribers by 2011, as innovative services from Korean
operators continue to gain traction in that market and China and Japan follow
Europe, with its relatively advanced infrastructure will see 68.7 million
subscribers by 2011, with spikes as operators launch services to coincide with
the 2006 Fifa World Cup and again in 2009 when a more complete infrastructure
base is likely to be achieved. Middle East and Africa will follow with 9.5
million subscribers in 2011 and The Americas with 9.1 million.
"TV is a medium that everyone understands, and so is mobile. Combining
the two in the imagination of consumers is not as great a challenge as it is
for other forms of mobile entertainment," commented McQueen. "But whilst
people buy into the idea of mobile TV, some of the finer details are yet to
be fully resolved: finding a suitable price point and delivering compelling
content to name two. This year we think we will see these issues begin to be
fully resolved and the rapid uptake of mobile TV devices and services will
commence," concluded McQueen.
Interesting report but as much as I believe in mobile TV, as a serious value
added service for mobile devices as well, I think users wants to get the full
access to real TV channels, not predefined mobile TV channels with selected
content. The charm and benefit of having the TV in the pocket must that users
can access the channels they missed to watch, because they are not at home.
Personally I don't believe in this kill time scenario, where customers sits
bored in front of their mobile device and watch something preconfigured, no
customers want to watch real time TV as a kind of place shift service.
Predefined video channels can be an addition only like a video on demand
service. IMHO this is something the industry (mobile operators and broadcasters)
needs to figure out to make mobile TV a success, it's not a question of
technology aka DMB vs. DVB-H since this can and will be solved anyway.
Cheers ~ Arne