Last month, Juniper Research released a report likely to strike fear in the hearts of operators betting on consumers' willingness to pay for mobile TV content. In "Opportunities for Streamed & Broadcast Services, 2008-2013," Juniper projects that by 2013 some 330 million people worldwide will have handsets that can receive analog and digital broadcast TV signals — but less than 14 percent of them will sign up for pay mobile TV services.
"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," said report author Dr. Windsor Holden.
Recent events appear to support Holden.
In Germany, Mobile 3.0's DVB-H trial flopped when operators started promoting their own TV-capable phones designed to receive DVB-T signals for free — undermining Mobile 3.0’s pay TV business model.
Last July, Toshiba shut down its Japanese satellite mobile TV subsidiary, Mobile Broadcasting, because the subscriber base wasn't big enough to support the business. But it wasn't because the Japanese aren't watching mobile TV. In fact, shipments of handsets able to receive Japan's free 1-seg mobile TV service continue to soar according to the Japan Electronics Information Technology Association — 10 million in the first half of 2008, bringing the total of 1-seg units shipped to 30 million.
Of course, the situation is markedly different in the United States where carriers have a lock on the handsets available to subscribers. And so far, that has effectively stifled competition from devices that can receive free-to-air TV. But with more free-to-air devices hitting the market, it's reasonable to question whether that trend will continue indefinitely.
However, this cloud does have a silver lining, said Juniper's Holden. Fewer dedicated mobile TV networks mean opportunities for more on-demand services, he said. "There will always be a market for premium mobile TV on the mobile handset, and the gap in the market is likely to be filled by streamed video-on-demand services over the 3G network."
For more information, visit http://juniperresearch.com/shop/viewpressrelease.php?pr=110.