Free-to-air Is Key To Mobile TV

People are reluctant to pay for mobile TV, favoring instead free-to-view broadcasts, according to research.

More than 330m mobile users worldwide will own broadcast TV-enabled handsets by 2013.

The market for mobile TV is expected to expand rapidly over the next few years, spurred on by the smartphone which is driving improvements in screen quality, microchips and antennas.

Yet a report from Juniper Research says that less than 14 per cent will opt for mobile pay TV services.

Although mobile broadcast TV will generate global annual end-user revenues of USD $2.7 billion by 2013, this level is markedly lower than previously forecast.

In terms of end-user revenues, the US will be the largest single market for mobile broadcast TV services in 2013, followed by South Korea and China.

Dr Windsor Holden, the report’s author, said the increasing availability of mobile handsets capable of receiving free-to-air analogue and digital terrestrial TV signals would adversely impact the prospects for dedicated mobile broadcast TV networks.

"The development of terrestrial TV-capable receivers with comparatively low power consumption, and the availability of these receivers in mass market handsets, throws into question the business case for the deployment of a dedicated network in many markets."

The report notes that operator decisions to offer DVB-T handsets in Germany has effectively closed the door for DVB-H in Germany.

It also argues that the strong take-up of analogue TV handsets in China – and of one-seg handsets in Japan – indicates that free-to-air services will continue to predominate.

However, Holden believes that this trend in turn has created a further opportunity for streamed TV services.

"There will always be a market for some form of premium TV service on the mobile handset, and with broadcast TV in many markets likely to consist simply of the free-to-air terrestrial signals, the gap in the market is likely to be filled by streamed video-on-demand services over the 3G network," he said.

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