Despite being touted as the mobile industry's next big thing, there are mixed views for the commercial feasibility of mobile broadcasting TV. While the jury may still be out on what constitutes a viable business model, results of existing trials and commercial services indicate that there is definitely a market there if operators get the pricing and content right.
When it comes to pricing it obviously varies from market to market. While providing the service for free, an example seen in Korea, is a quick way to get consumers on board, it's obviously not a model that can be applied in the long term.
'Pricing is very important issue, but to provide the service for free, you need to get advertising [to sponsor that type of business model],' said Pierrick Hamon, a board member of Telekomunikacja Polska Group.
John Eun, VP of WorldDMB Forum, concurred, saying that experience in Korea shows that the adoption slowed down when operators stopped subsidizing the services.
But this doesn't mean that only freebies can attract consumers to sign up. Indeed evidence shows that mobile users are willing to pay for the service.
For instance, results of a mobile TV trial conducted by Qualcomm in Taiwan show that consumers are willing to pay for the service if the price point is set between NT$200 ($6.20) and NT$300 ($9.30) for 200 channels, according to May Oh, senior director of business development for greater China and India for MediaFLO Technologies, Qualcomm.
'Consumers want a lot of premium services, and they want the content they are happy with,' Oh said, adding that quality of service and short channel switching time are the other key things consumers are looking for.
The trial, which was conducted with China Network Systems and Taiwan Television Enterprise, involved 200 participants.
Quantity aside, Oh noted content needs to be adapted to fit the mobile phone screen.
'Consumers watching TV on a small screen is not similar to watching TV at home,' she said. 'Instead of watching a 90-minute program, they want short clips and the usability of the service has to be full-mode.'