The Year of Mobile TV

I find myself talking endlessly to people lately about mobile tv/video. There is oodles of interest, but some nervousness too, only a little of which is warranted.

The right thing to be nervous about is subscription rates. As one market researcher put it to me recently, North American focus group participants are not to be trusted. They say they will pay $5-7/month for all sorts of services — but they also only want to pay $5-7/month for all the services to which they are subscribed. That’s tough math to make work.

Am I nervous, however, about mobile video in general? You’ve got to be kidding: It will be gigantic. It is already here in many countries,, and it is going to be much bigger than anyone thinks.

The real question, however, is what the mix will be between ad-supported and subscription-supported content. For my part, I think the skew will be less toward the subscription direction than many people think.


  1. There are three real issues with mobile video. The first is content: either license it, or create it. However, the current content owners and distributors (tv stations and networks) are pursuing mobile initiatives and aren’t likely to license much if any content to telephone companies.
    For TV stations, with already licensed content, it’s an incremental service on top of home-based viewing and a way to make their services ubiquitous.
    The real issue is where people will be when they watch. They won’t be sleeping, they won’t be at home, they won’t be driving, and they are unlikely to be at work. What’s left?
    John Willkie

  2. What’s left are teenagers, retirees, and the unemployed. A mixed market, to be sure.