The mobile TV market has been a disappointment for years, but emerging efforts from cable companies and content providers to make entertainment available everywhere via the web may finally drive adoption. Will next year finally be the year for mobile television?

Open Mobile Video Coalition Mobile TV

Globally, mobile TV buyers are a small population with just 115 million subscribers, according to Screen Digest. Compare that to 4.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, and mobile TV is clearly a tough market.

I’m not sure that the new devices (pictured) that will offer free over-the-air television delivery of broadcast channels to be shown off in a few days at CES, or Qualcomm’s attempts to bring its MediaFLO television service to cars will make a dent in the apathy around mobile television. However, today we learned that Microsoft is looking for someone to help it push its Xbox Live content to Windows Mobile phones, and last year AMD showed off a cloud service designed to let folks take their games on the run. Comcast could also broaden its Xfinity service to allow me to bring my TV shows with me when I leave the house.

I wonder if these efforts from cable providers and content owners to deliver users’ content to them through the cloud, regardless of what screen or service they’re using, will drive adoption. Readers, what do you think?

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  1. Interesting thoughts, Stacey. My concern as an AT&T hating iPhone user is that the mobile providers will be the big hiccup in the equation. 3% of use 40% of the bandwidth. TV on the phone will only make this worse. Video in general is a bit of a data pig. I can’t imagine AT&T or Verizon would be happy if I’m watching the Kardashians on my iPhone while my coworker’s signal goes down during a conference call.

    My prediction is the phone makers will accommodate it first, followed by the TV providers (Hulu, etc) second, then there will have to be enough demand to justify building extra towers to accommodate all that data.

    P.S. I do not recommend ever sitting through an episode of the Kardashians. Have a Happy New Year!

  2. the Mobile TV dots have finally been connected (albeit a long time in the making)…

    Rupert Murdoch and other market movers will push their brands to Mobile TV. The Mobile Internet had to arrive first before mobile TV hit the scene, it has and now mobile tv will follow.

    Here is an article of Rupert Murdoch championing Mobile TV


  3. Some of your India readers may wonder what is the fuss all about. One of the major telcos, Tata Tele, starting offering mobile TV over EVDO data cards last month. 40 channels for Rs 75. That’s less than $2 a month!


    I haven’t seen much feedback so far, but at this affordable pricing they may soon have to worry about AT&T style wireless data bandwidth issues. As of now, they have the least congested network as per Indian regulator TRAI.

    1. looks like that’s just the content charges. Internet charges are separate.
      nevertheless a good attempt. will try that out during my next trip ie next month.

      1. Yes, they count data usage as per the plan you are subscribed to. A bit of a dampener, but still a great option to have. In India, car / mobile DTH setups cost in the region of $2,000 just for equipment!

        The photon+ option gets you a lot of channel surfing without that kind of upfront cost. Should sell well if they market it right.

        If the main EVDO competition – Reliance – gets into the act, well you suddenly have a much larger market. Just like the Tatas, Reliance has the CDMA/EVDO telco service and the Big TV DTH platform. In fact, they also have a lot of content within the group via the various media arms.

  4. what about just putting a broadcast TV reciever into cell phones and other mobile devices? that way people could watch for free what is already being broadcast. sure it will not bring additional revenue to the phone company but could sell a lot of devices.

  5. Qualcomm/MediaFLO with their mobile broadcast tv solution has painted themself in a corner. TV anytime, anywhere on any device is the future – whether it is a window’s mobile device or iPhone or Android or a Netbook or laptop.

    Comcast, Time Warner and other cable co’s will deliver content via the cloud to their paying customers/subscribers. So will the IPTV co’s – AT&T and Verizon. And even the satellite co’s – DirecTV and DISH. If you pay for cable, IPTV or satellite, you will be able to get your content – even when you are not home.

    MediaFLO has to figure out how to be relevant in that world. if they think their silo will be the “wireless pipe” for mobile TV, they are dreaming.

  6. I don’t know why people seem to think mobile tv is a workable model at all. Mobile tv is generally to intrusive to fit into most Americans’ lifestyles, since they drive most places(an hour long train commute would help fuel adoption), and while out typically aren’t focused on the television they are missing(thanks to Hulu and Tivo). In addition, prime-time television provides tv on a schedule when most people have nothing else to do but watch tv.

    I think that short clips, like youTube, are a better fit. They can be entertaining and informative, but have to really fit in the in-between times in peoples lives. But, even this format is problematic, since finding the content you want takes most of that time.

  7. Are you thinking of putting your head in the clouds? « excapite Saturday, January 2, 2010

    [...] when the xmas headlines run hot with stories like Can the Cloud Help Drive Mobile TV Adoption? You know the hype around the CloudSphere is going to reach fever pitch in [...]

  8. It’s not the (viability of) technology that is likely to limit adoption of mobile TV as much as lacking consumer value proposition.

    When you watch TV, ideally, you’d switch off (your awareness to) the rest of the world. TV is a lean-back experience. You are immersed in TV. Try doing this as you get in and out of a bus/tram/ ..or worse, as you drive, or even while your spouse drives and you are on a passenger seat. You will probably succeed in getting a news update but will you enjoy a game half as much on the move as on the couch?

    Mobility is a state of work. You can multi-task to watch TV, but only with several compromises – some of which are dangerous. Of course people happily tweet, blog and catch youtube clips on mobile, so why not TV? Well, tweeting, blogging, and even youtube are lean-forward activities, requiring “attention spikes” unlike lean-back TV which ideally requires full-undivided attention.

  9. Fox Mobile Offers Hulu-Like Subscription Service for Smartphones – GigaOM Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    [...] Whether Fox can finally entice users to pay for on-the-go video is far from clear, though.  Qualcomm appears to be repositioning MediaFLO – the most highly publicized mobile TV effort thus far – as a content delivery network after the TV business failed to draw large numbers of paying viewers. Overall, only 115 million mobile TV subscribers exist worldwide, according to recent figures from Screen Digest. [...]

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