Mobile television service provider MobiTV announced today that it had passed the 5-million-subscribers mark. This caught our eye, because back in August the service had 4 million subscribers, and at the time we wondered if growth was slowing.
According to MobiTV, the opposite is true. Whereas it took the company 10 months to get from 3 million to 4 million subscribers, it took half that time to add an another million. What gives?
MobiTV co-founder and president Paul Scanlan told me in a phone interview today that the number counts people who actually pay for the service — but it isn’t just people going to MobiTV.com and signing up; it inlcudes direct subscribers as well as those who receive the service as part of a bundled package from carriers like Alltel or Sprint. Scanlan declined to provide a breakdown of standalone vs. bundled subscribers.
Scanlan attributed the burst in growth to a number of factors including more sophisticated phones; a wave of interest in doing more with those phones, spawned by the iPhone; carriers that are more willing to bundle the service; and better premium content. The Olympics, live-streamed NFL football games and the election are examples of higher quality content now available and generating interest in mobile video (and, coincidentally, all those events happened since our August story on MobiTV). Nielsen’s recent “Three Screen Report” found that mobile subscribers who watch mobile video spent 3 hours and 37 minutes per month watching video.