Several factors hindered the widespread global deployment and adoption of mobile cellular and broadcast TV services. According to the latest market study by ABI Research, the market inhibitors are finally being addressed.
Worldwide mobile TV service adoption will accelerate starting in 2012 through 2015, when total market revenues are forecast to exceed $20 billion.
The three most important market barriers have been:
- The lack of free and simulcast local and national TV programs as a primer for fee-based premium content in most countries -- outside of Japan and South Korea.
- Limited analog-to-digital TV transitions in most regions that would allow broadcasters to simulcast mobile and terrestrial TV services. Most developed countries will complete that transition by 2012.
- 3G cellular service throughput and latency performance are inadequate for mobile TV. The deployment of 4G networks over the next few years will enable a significantly improved mobile TV experience.
According to ABI's principal analyst Fritz Jordan, "Mobile network operators have been hampered by their lack of media industry experience, by mobile broadcasting rights, and premium content. Also, there are still few mobile devices containing the chipset required to pick up free-to-air mobile broadcast TV services."
On the bright side, however, once the analog-to-digital TV conversion is complete, the barriers-to-entry for broadcasters will be low -- they will leverage existing content licenses and rights and invest just $100,000 or so per tower to provide mobile TV services.
A further disruptive influence on the direction of the market is the proliferation of new types of mobile devices with larger, high resolution displays and richer multimedia capabilities than cellular handsets.
Says Jordan, "Since mobile TV won't be just the province of cellular operators but also of broadcast TV providers, we will see more TV-centric mobile devices -- automotive infotainment systems, media tablets, MIDs, and netbooks."
Mobile consumers won't be forced to go through a mobile operator and have to pay for voice, messaging, email and Internet plans first, just to get mobile TV.