Originally published: March 9, 2011
Mobile TV hasn't been the universal success that overseas broadcasters, equipment manufacturers and content producers had hoped it would be.
While the service has taken off in parts of Asia and Latin America, so far it has struggled in Europe. But the mixed results seem to point to one clear lesson for U.S. broadcasters now promising to offer mobile DTV service later this year: mobile TV must be free — at least in part. “The model that will be successful here is one where you marry free-to-air delivery with some kind of complementary service" such as premium content, interactivity or e-commerce, says Diana Jovin, VP of corporate marketing at Telegent Systems, a company that makes chips for analog mobile TV receivers now being sold in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East and India. Free has been a winner in Japan, where mobile TV is a fact of life after just five years. Eighty million consumers have access to mobile video capability through smart phones, netbooks and other portable devices, according to a report by the research firm In-Stat. Today, 75% of mobile phones in the Japanese market have mobile TV chips in them, and about 40% of the population are frequent mobile TV viewers, says Ulla Saari, sales director at Expway, a company that makes interactive mobile TV software applications. In addition to the free service, another key factor in Japan’s mobile success has been the pervasiveness of phones capable of receiving the service. The mobile phone market in Japan was stagnant until wireless carrier KDDI broke out of the pack in 2006 and began selling mobile phones with TV receivers.
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