"Television as we know it today will become obsolete in the next 10 years." Bill Gates, November 10, 2006
As I pointed out in my post on the Consumer Electronics Show recently held in Las Vegas, personal viewing units supporting Mobile Television and Mobile Video on Demand were the rage among several companies at this year's show.
And now according to Understanding and Solutions, a U.K. based specialist information and consulting firm who tracks worldwide developments in the media, consumer electronics and digital communications, the total annual worldwide revenue for Mobile TV and Video on Demand programming will collectively reach $18 billion dollars by 2010 with the bulk of the growth coming from the United States, Great Britain and France.
The basic differences between Mobile TV and Mobile Video on Demand are simple - Mobile TV will allow you to access television programs as they happen. Sporting events, live programming, full show programming. Mobile Video on Demand will allow you to "dip in and dip out" by downloading snippets of programs, music videos, even specific performances on a given show. It is also big with gaming enthusiasts who can download quizzes and other types of interactive games.
The 18 billion dollar figure does not take into account the revenues generated by advertising, sponsorships and added interactive services. So the amount of generated revenue could be much higher.
With Mobile TV, watching a live sporting event on a personal viewing device is what very well could be what drives the market. Considerable interest was shown in Europe for Mobile TV devices during the 2006 World Cup tournament. And at that time, only one Mobile TV broadcast - 3 Italia from Italy - had the capabilities of showing Mobile TV content over its WalkTV system. Today, 3 Italia has over 500,000 subscribers to it's Mobile TV and Video on Demand programming. But that's still less than 10% of 3 Italia's total user base.
While smaller ventures have started in Germany and in Great Britain, the world's most successful Mobile TV service was based in South Korea. There, TU Media's highly successful service boasts over 3 million subscribers.
In the U.S., Verizon will launch their V Cast Mobile TV service sometime in the second quarter of 2007 utilizing Qualcomm's MediaFlo system. Verizon already has a V Cast music service that allows for downloads of music and the V Cast Video on Demand that allows for downloads of music videos, highlights of shows, replays of newscasts and other quick down-loadable video segments.
Like other Mobile TV providers, Qualcomm's Media Flo system will feature the Digital Video Broadcast - Handheld (or DVB-H) format which features excellent error correction capabilities, power efficiencies, and high scalability. The DVB-H format will allow upwards of 80 channels to be accessed by a person with a personal mobile viewing device.
As Mobile TV catches on there will be a larger demand for that format, much more than the Video on Demand services. Understanding and Solutions peg the revenues from Mobile TV to be four times times higher than Mobile Video on Demand by 2010.
Still, some are doubting the current mobile phone infrastructure can handle the bandwidth needed to pull off Mobile TV. Right now, MobiTV - which is featured on cellular carriers such as Cingular/AT&T and Sprint/Nextel - is offering broadband video capabilities bringing the convergence of movies, television and music to both cellular phones and to personal computers.
With the convergence of telecommunications and personal computers in the coming months, people will be able to stop and watch a live newscast, sporting event or television program on their laptop/phone/personal viewing device.
Considering where we've come from in the nearly 70 years of commercial television broadcasts, it's safe to say that we will see some monumental changes in how we watch television in the next 10 years. The biggest losers in this? Cable companies and satellite providers. Actually, the satellite providers may not be hurt as bad as there will continue to be a need for satellite feed programming. However, cable companies are already gearing up for the changes to come by offering high speed internet and tele-communications services in addition to their cable television offerings.
The changes to come in television technology will be exciting and daunting at the same time...