Mobile TV: 140m subs by 2011

Analysts at Arthur D Little consultancy suggest that despite currently being in the doldrums, mobile TV has a solid future and that the technology could win 140m subscribers by 2011.

The report says that there are 40m users worldwide who watch some form of mobile TV (this is additional to those viewing on 3G, says the report), but this is just 1% of mobile phone users. Additionally, many services are offered free of charge or as part of a high value service package so that direct revenues generated by broadcast mobile TV are low.

But, says the study, broadcast mobile TV can help mobile operators to offset the commoditization of voice and data access services. The industry is continuing to improve broadcast mobile TV business models and work on launching next generation satellite/terrestrial mobile TV networks

Even the business models in markets with sizeable numbers of broadcast mobile TV subscribers - such as Japan with 18 million, South Korea with 17 million or Italy with well over 1 million - have not yet become viable commercial success stories. However, mobile operators remain interested in promoting the service as it can support customer acquisition and retention, and can be used to promote high value "flat-rate packages".

“Broadcast mobile TV will experience continuous, but slower than previously expected subscriber uptake,” says Arthur D Little. “However, the prospect of establishing profitable, new broadcast mobile TV business models remains and indirect benefits further motivate the industry to push the service. And, in spite of the current recession, consortia such as China Satellite Broadcasting Corporation or Satellite2mobile, based in Dubai, have advanced plans to launch next generation hybrid satellite/terrestrial mobile TV networks. Once these are launched and reach critical subscriber mass, they will lead to a step-change in the nascent broadcast mobile TV business.”

“The development in China indicates that Asia may remain the key world region for mobile TV. The national broadcast mobile TV service already has 1.2 million subscribers. The planned launch of the satellite platform and the fact that over 200 types of CMMB-enabled mobile devices are available could lead to rapid mass adoption of mobile TV.”

Arthur D. Little expects the number of broadcast mobile TV subscribers to increase from 40 to 140 million users by 2011 – and recommends that executives stay tuned rather than switch off on the topic.