Mobile TV will stagnate in Europe
Chris Forrester

Barely three years ago mobile TV was very much flavour of the period. DVB-H was seen as a likely winner of European-influenced markets, while South Korea was seemingly seeing spectacular enthusiasm for its mobile TV technology (S-DMB and T-DMB). Today’s story is very different.

Most European telcos (other than Switzerland, Holland and Italy’s ‘3’) have effectively abandoned plans for DVB-H, while at the same time using limited enthusiasm to push expensive 3G bandwidth as a means of accessing TV signals. BSkyB in the UK has about 20 channels available via 3G.

Screen Digest (SD) reminds readers of this dramatic turn-around, saying operators in Spain, France and Italy “have expressed their unwillingness to adopt DVB-H” depending instead on their own network infrastructure. SD says that the mobile TV market has remained flat over the past 18 months, despite the 3G universe expanding by 150% over the same 18 months.

Worse, perhaps, even in those markets which have launched DVB-H uptake has been miserable, and subscribers measured only in the 10,000s says SD.

Bundle all this non-activity together and it means a downgrade of mobile TV expectations by Screen Digest. The numbers of unicast mobile TV subs (via 3G) is expected to triple over the next 5 years, mainly driven by events in France which SD says will have 64% of the European market by 2013. France is enjoying this relative success because of its bundling policy, combining mobile TV access in its high-end 3G contracts.

“Comparatively,” says SD, “the broadcast mobile TV market is set to stagnate during the next couple of years at about €42m, generated by 1.2m subs.”