In CommunicAsia 2009: Making Mobile TV Work

communicasia2009

It is more than one motnh ago that I was in CommunicAsia  for a Mobile TV panel. Here are the main points we discussed about how to make the business case for Mobile TV work.

  • Free-to-Air channels are a must to drive adoption of Mobile TV into the mainstream, as Japan One Seg, Korea T-DMB and even the DVB-H Italian case show. More than 20 million Japanese watch TV on a phone. As of today, 85 % of the new handsets sold in Japan have a One Seg tuner. Even the iPhone has an One Seg tuner accesory (see picture)
  • “Free” creates a large audience that can be monetized through subscriptions, advertisement and transactions (VOD, Catch-up TV, cross-selling). It is the economics of free, common in Internet and Software, applied to Mobile TV.
  • There is a need for a next-gen Mobile TV that puts together Broadcast and Unicast technologies. Broadcast enables FTA channels at zero marginal cost (it is the same cost to serve one customer than one million) and it is efficient for premium mass audience channels like sports channels. Meantime, Unicast provides unlimited number of channels for premium, niche/long tail, VOD and catch-up TV that can be monetize as subscriptions or pay-per-download. The 3G network also enables interactive services, like EPGs, audience monitoring, interactive ads, or interactions with social network (see what my friend watch, or “watch and chat”), that give extra chance for monetization.
  • Focus on high-end devices, like iPhone or ones with TV tuners. Early adopters of these devices are the same early adopters that will watch TV on a mobile. It is a waste to support a large number of mid-range or low-end devices. Mobile TV has not crossed the chasm yet.

1seg-iphone1

Some other curious facts and learning from the Japanese One Seg: Mobile TV experience:

NHK Study: Where people watch mobile TV?
1) At home in a room wo TV 38%, 2) At work/school 26%, 3)While bathing 24% – On train goes in 7th place (17%) tied with at home in a room with a TV!
=>  There are more use cases than just watching TV on the train…

DIMSDRIVE research for Japan:
What people like about Mobile TV: 1) Anywhere, 2) free, 3) simple
What they do not like: 1) Battery, 2) don’t need to watch TV outside, 3) do not want to watch TV on a phone

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