The switchover to all-digital television broadcasting in the US and other major countries will create an unprecedented opportunity for the mobile TV market.

A study from ABI Research forecasts that traditional and mobile TV broadcasters and cellular operators in many regions will launch mobile TV services that will attract over 500 million viewers by 2013.

Its says that mobile TV will be seen as an extension of traditional broadcast TV services.

The researchers stress the important distinction between content streamed to mobile handsets over cellular networks, and free-to-air broadcasting to mobile devices equipped with mobile TV tuners.

Jeff Orr, senior ABI analyst, said that mobile TV users have yet to value the medium properly because it has not been validated as an independent product and service.

"It has been primarily offered at the end of a long list of more preferred cellular services," he said.

"However, Mobile TV will soon be positioned in a more proper role as an extension of traditional broadcast TV services."

Orr said mobile TV viewing will not be done solely on cellular handsets.

He said devices such as MIDs and automotive infotainment systems will also play a part.

"I believe that once the content is available and the services launched, mobile TV will enable more classes of mobile devices that are "natural fits" for mobile entertainment."

The report says that those most likely to benefit from the rise of mobile TV are:

  • Content developers and providers
  • Device vendors, especially MID and cellular handset OEMs
  • Service providers
  • Multimedia and security software
  • Semiconductor and network infrastructure vendors

Once mobile TV users adopt the service at high growth levels, advertisers will also climb on board to target the significant number of new "mobile eyeballs".

ABI Research also believes the timing of the mobile TV market’s emergence is good.

It said that as 2009 progresses, signs of economic optimism may emerge, and allow the fledgling industry to establish a foothold before the holiday shopping season.

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