Mobile TV users grow, still no proven business model

According to an InfoCom study the number of mobile TV users continues to grow but there is still no proven business model so far. Japan, South Korea and Italy are the leading markets for broadcast-based mobile TV services but mobile TV subscriber growth in these markets is driven mainly by free or partly-free access and high handset availability.

In fact, ad-based free-to-air services are dominant in Japan and South Korea whereas most of all other markets are dominated by subscription based services, which range from E1.00 to E7.00 a month (for as low as two and as high as 60 TV channels); though, in these markets, the subscriber base is not growing.

Third-party service providers ceased commercial operations in Japan and Germany mainly due to a non-cooperative attitude of the local mobile operators as well as a rather limited choice of both channels and handsets. Mobile operators are in general rather reluctant to collaborate with broadcasters and third-party service providers although some are beginning to open towards partnerships.

The on-going battle on standards is actually leading to market dissemination. Currently, most mobile TV offers in Western Europe are streamed over 3G, although there is a certain shift towards broadcast standards, especially DVB-H against others, such as 1-Seg, MediaFLO, T-DMB or S-DMB. Content generally offered are news, sports and adult contents, which are particularly adapted for mobile viewing. So far the market for "made-for-mobile" content (such as mobisodes for TV shows) is rather small.

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