Monday, July 03, 2006

Will Mobile TV succeed?

There were 2 interesting reports issued last week by Jupiter and Analysys, both questioning the revenue opportunity of mobile content, and in particular mobile TV.

Jupiter warned that the majority of European subs are unwilling to pay for content and services beyond basic messaging.

Analysys gave similar evidence saying that subs would be unwilling to spend very much on mobile TV.

Mobile TV has been a hot topic for a few months now with everyone and their dog offering their opinion on technology, business models, who owns the value chain, etc etc etc. The jury is still out on how successful it will be and the only thing that is clear is that there are vastly different and contradicting opinions.

Mobile operators and Nokia say it will be a killer app. Others say that TV on the mobile will be niche at best and a money pit at worst.

Boil it all down and the real conundrum, and probably what will make or break mobile TV, is good old fashioned ROI.

DVB-H is supported by the mobile industry. But it requires significant investment in infrastructure, content delivery and billing systems, content acquisition, etc. And then there are handset subsidies to consider. Spectrum is also limited until 2010 in most markets.

DMB is supported by the broadcasting industry because they own DAB spectrum and DMB is very DAB-like. Low infrastructure investment is required. DMB might disintermediate the mobile operators because you don't need a mobile phone to get DMB service. But for market penetration, DMB-enabled mobile phones are required which operators won't subsidize since they're not in the driver's seat in the value chain.

So.....where does this leave us??

If subs don't want to pay for mobile TV, then mobile operators won't want to invest in the infrastucture. Similarly, broadcasters may be reluctant to invest because they won't have the handsets to get critical mass. Arguably
, broadcasters could still make money on lower tariffs (since their up front investment is lower) but they need volume.

Vendors aren't helping matters since they're lining up behind different standards (DVB-H vs DMB being the main battle).

I find it hard to see how mobile TV will succeed unless everyone holds hands and sings kum-ba-ya. A little bit of a large pie is much better than a big bit of a small or nonexistent pie. Economies of scale and willingness to fairly share the value are vital. Unfortunately, the mobile industry is not known for its fondness of ecosystems where they don't make the most money.....


Anders Borg said...

I have a suggestion regarding advertising on Mobile TV compared to on "normal" TV, as a way to increase likelihood that an ad is seen, and hence motivate investments from advertising companies:

Continuously rolling banners with interaction

Reason: You probably don't watch TV via your phone for very long, so breaking up a show in several blocks to squeeze in ads won't work. The user will simply switch off. Rather: Show ads all the time! They will be tiny for sure, but if they are made "clickable" there could be access to more info behind the ad etc. You could even be involved in polls in real-time this way. Sure, you won't see the show while watching e.g. a poll chart, but you could at least continue hearing it.

My 10 cents...

Kevin Evans said...

Interesting. My worry would be screen real estate. To make the ad actually legible, it can't be too small, but then that eats into the main picture. Needs user testing to see if the annoyance factor is too great.....