Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Would you watch TV on your mobile?

Technology continues to move at a frightening pace. Ten years ago, portable CD players had taken over from cassette-based Walkmans. Today, MP3 players (particular iPods) have captured the listening-on-the-move market.

A fair number of mobile phones now have FM tuners built into them, or available as a headphone add on. But do many of us listen to the radio while commuting these days? Dodgy reception, interruptions, unable to go back and hear that bit again … Surely most people have moved to MP3 music (and even podcasts) to get the flexibility we require?

There have been two mobile TV trials in the UK recently. These are about broadcasting live TV to your mobile phone – distinct from downloading your favourite drama content from Apple’s iTunes.
  • O2 (along with NTL) gave 375 residents in Oxford a Nokia 7710 phone, capable of picking up the 16 TV channels being broadcast locally using the DVB-H standard.
  • Virgin Mobile (working with BT Movio) picked off 1,000 customers in the M25 area, offering them 50 digital radio stations and just three TV channels using spare DAB frequencies.
So would you be willing to stop looking out the window and sit hunched up focussed on your mobile’s screen? The statistics from the trials are intriguing. Turns out that people don’t always prefer to watch the biggest available screen: the handy form factor of a mobile-based TV can be an overriding factor.

In the O2 trial, a massive 36% watched mobile TV at home, and 18% watched during breakfast! Lunch break viewing entertained a further 15%. On average, trialists watched for 23 minutes at a stretch; and some lasted as long as 90 minutes.

O2 viewers watched on average 3 hours per week. In comparison, Virgin Mobile/BT Movio trialists watched only 66 minutes of TV per week, and 95 minutes of digital radio.
  • These were technology trials, so no one had to pay. The prospect of paying between £8 and £12 a month was deemed "reasonable".
  • The lack of an EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) and short battery life were identified as problems.
  • Mobisodes – 5 minute catch-up episodes of soaps etc – were not very popular with the trialists. Music videos went down better.
(Many of the facts above were sourced from an article in Broadcast magazine, 24 March 2006 edition.)

So when will these be serious options to further weigh down our pockets and bags?

DVB-H relies on ultra-high frequencies that won’t be freed up until after the analogue TV switchover to digital completes in 2012. So O2 need to find a different technology if they want to go to market soon - or just stick to 3G streaming instead. The BT Movio solution trialled by Virgin Mobile replies on the DAB L-band frequencies, which are active and available now (used for bog-standard DAB radio), and they are expected to launch commercially in Summer 2006.

Will you be amongst the subscribers? Would you be seen dead watchinhg TV on your mobile? Do you really want live TV on the move?

1 comment:

Cybez said...

I'd watch tv on my mobile when driving;-)I'm gr8 @ multitasking just like a woman LOL