I was shooting some answers back to Adnews about Mobile TV and thought I would also share them here on the St Edmonds Lab blog.
Do you think mobile TV will be popular in Australia?
Australians like anyone else experience idle time, waiting periods or plain uninspired boredom. Their mobile phone has become a life tool, a companion that is always on and always near. So why sholdn’t they want to use it for passive enjoyment such as watching mobile TV?
Do you think people want to watch TV on such a small screen?
I have seen teenagers listening to cheap handsets blaring badly compressed MP3s. It is amzing what lack of media quality people do put up with, as long as it fits their current mood and situation. Obviously whole cricket matches are unlikely to become hits on the phone screen. High-end handsets Koreans and Japanese enjoy today will add to the fidelity of the experience but haven’t arrived here yet.
What do you think networks will have to offer to make the technology popular? What do you think is the potential for advertising on such platforms?
First, TelCos shouldn’t act like content producers but rather open their gates for others to deliver the most popular format. TV production companies or sport executives will say that their established TV brands (familiar from the big screen) will reel in the viewers. This can be true for reality programming, catch up summaries or content that is complemetary. But why shouldn’t a talk-back show or a 24/7 format of “Hot or Not” video-self portraits prove to be the Aussie hit? On top of delivering sizzling bits that people are ready to watch anytime, networks should intertwine the content with relevant ads and a stable m-commerce application. This would allow consumers to act on Mobile TV content via their 3G connection, be that by uploading, voting or buying. These applications will build a critical commercial audience that the networks/TelCos can profit from.
Is price a key factor?
Absolutely yes. Look at how people don’t make video calls because of cost. Voice calls will become ever cheaper and therefore decrease in profitability for the networks. But that doesn’t mean flocks of consumers will be happy to compensate by paying more for mobile TV, an offer they might suspect to be nothing more than a shrunk telly. The investment for a compatible handset has to be made first and ideally this would include a free TV package.
How long do you think it will take for such technologies to be in Australia?
That depends on the politics of many parties. Handset producers, carriers, regulators, content providers and advertisers have to work together to turn mobile TV into part of an attractive mobile experience.
What would it take for it to become mainstream?
One easy-to-understand satisfying mobile experience, the SMS of mobile video so to say.
My 2 cents:
It’s useful to always divide up mobile video (over packet data connections like 3G or by syncing from your computer) and true mobile tv (DVB-H etc). People don’t always get the difference
DVB-H is not suited to niche broadcasting and telcos and other providers won’t open up those gates for a very long time. As it’s a digital spectrum broadcast, these channels are always on regardless of whether anyone’s watching so only (reasonably) mainstream stuff will be committed to. Mobile video, on the other hand, is ideal for millions of content producers 🙂
In Australia, the regulators hold the key to true mobile tv. The new digital spectrums and their permitted usage rules has so far been a debacle. And Telstra’s test of DVB-H trial in Sydney didn’t go well. Another company are doing one soon.
The iPhone may be the device to really kick off mobile video as it has an ‘ecosystem’ (iTunes) that people are familiar with and have invested time in. That’s presuming we get some iTunes TV and movie content here before the iPhone comes out in 18 months. This could be the simplicity required to get people used to it all.