Updated: Half a Billion Mobile TV Viewers by 2013


UPDATE: Shortly after posting this story, Cisco sent us an update to its Visual Networking Index. Long story short: There’s going to be a whole lotta mobile video traffic. Details after the jump.

There will be 500 million mobile TV viewers by 2013 and the mobile TV market will be worth more than $50 billion, a new study from ABI Research predicts.

This growth will be driven in part by switchovers to all-digital TV transmissions happening in the U.S. and other regions that will spur opportunities for over-the-air TV broadcasts directly to mobile devices equipped with TV tuners.

Activity in this space has already begun. At CES last month the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) announced that 63 stations in 22 U.S. cities committed to providing over-the-air digital television to mobile devices in 2009.

However, there’s still a long way to go. Just 6.5 million Americans had tuned into mobile video as of August 2008. according to ComScore. The percentage of cell phone subscribers who watched mobile video at that time was a paltry 2.8 percent.

So what will give mobile TV a boost? In a press release announcing its findings, ABI Research senior analyst Jeff Orr said:

“Mobile TV users have yet to value the medium properly because it has not been validated as an independent product and service. It has been primarily offered at the end of a long list of more preferred cellular services. However, Mobile TV will soon be positioned in a more proper role as an extension of traditional broadcast TV services.”

We’d like to share Orr’s optimism but there are still roadblocks ahead, at least in the U.S. For one, while consumer electronics companies like LG and Samsung have signed on with the OMVC, the first generation of devices capable of receiving these signals won’t be available until 2010, and the OMVC is seen as competitive to the cell carriers that haven’t signed on with the group.

UPDATE: Cisco sent out the Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update for its Visual Networking Index today and it too is predicting a boom in mobile video. Here are the highlights:

  • Globally, mobile data traffic will double every year through 2013, increasing 66 times between 2008 and 2013. Mobile data traffic will grow at a CAGR of 131 percent between 2008 and 2013, reaching over 2 exabytes per month by 2013.
  • Almost 64 percent of the world’s mobile traffic will be video by 2013. Mobile video will grow at a CAGR of 150 percent between 2008 and 2013. Mobile video has the highest growth rate of any application category measured within the Cisco VNI Forecast at this time.
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    Drew R

    Almost every smartphone that can get WiFi today can see some version of mobile TV. TVoIP will be widely available to millions more by the end of the year. No waiting for FLO or ATSC. The question is not when but who. Specifically will the incumbent media properties be delivering their content to national audiences over mobile or will new international networks replace them. After all there’s no reason to watch CCTV if you have a choice.

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