Mobile Television Experts Debate Market Opportunities

By | March 27, 2009 | Satellite Show

A collection of leading manufacturers and service providers from the mobile television industry discussed many different facets of this dynamic market and took a frank and honest look at the development’s slower-than-expected rollout at the “Mobile TV: The Cross-Platform Interplay” panel at Satellite 2009. 
    The mobile television market, made up of many different sectors and markets, lacks a dominant service provider with which consumers readily associate.
    Jerry Power, strategic marketing director for Alcatel-Lucent, began by explaining that the mobile television market has four sub-markets – handsets, automobiles, personal video players and laptop computers. Power said that one of the lessons learned in this market is that consumers expect a high-quality user experience and that there is a lot of mobile video consumed indoors, which requires a solution with deep-wall penetration.
    Tom Pollard, director of product management at Verimatrix, noted that customers are coming to the mobile television market from the side.  They are consumers of both video services and wireless services and mobile video is an enhancement of one or the other.  Pollard pointed out some of the challenges ahead for the market, reminding the audience that studios will want to protect their content, which, at some point, means encryption.  The studios don’t want the same thing happening to them that happened in the music business, according to Pollard.
    Max D’Oreye de Lanantremange, vice president of marketing at Newtec, was quick to point out that analysts who predicted the market would roll out quickly were wrong.  On the positive side, the technology is now proven to work.  Lanantremange stressed that coverage is key and with a handful of exceptions, such as very small countries, satellite was the best technology to distribute content.
    Stefan Raab, director of product development at ICO, stressed that coverage is critical for widespread adoption of mobile television.  ICO is early on in their trials and Raab stressed that consumers expect the same user experience as in their homes.  This is a challenge for terrestrial providers of mobile television, as they have to compete with decades of engineering that has continually improved over-the-air broadcast signals.  According to Raab, satellite solves that problem.
    Patrick Grillo, sales director for Udcast, explained that satellite is the only feasible technology to achieve the time-to-market goals of the mobile television market.  Grillo also outlined a unique challenge the industry faces. “Mobile television crosses a boundary where two different worlds come together.  This involves two sets of regulators from both the wireless and television world.  Licensing mobile television services has been a bear,” he said.
    The panel was universal in their agreement that the mobile television market has had a disappointing uptake. However, there was very little consensus on causes or remedies for the problem.  Some pointed fingers at the limited number of video-enabled handsets as the reason for limited growth, noting that the manufacturers are holding back until they see the market take off. Some blamed poor user experience for the slow uptake.  There was even more disagreement about the role of free-to-air content versus premium channels, revolving around attracting customers versus the efficient distribution of content on a network.
    The panel did agree that satellite technology offered a number of benefits including ubiquitous coverage and time-to-market advantages.  Market studies suggest that there are four major roles satellite will play as a part of the mobile television market – content distribution, distribution to moving vehicles, sending content to cell phone towers, and serving customers in outlying areas.

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