Report: Lucrative future for mobile TV

A report by Juniper Research expects the global mobile-TV market to grow tenfold by 2012, despite poor uptake in the UK

Global mobile-TV revenues will exceed $6.6bn (£3.3bn) per year by 2012, as the potential market for the service grows tenfold. According to Juniper Research, mobile broadcast TV services will be available to 120 million mobile users in 40 countries by the next decade.

However, there are a few technological hurdles to overcome in the meantime — such as handset and spectrum availability, and the level of investment.

Report author Dr Windsor Holden said: "It will take a good five years after services are rolled out for networks to start recouping their investment, but the market is there."

Juniper's stance appears almost unrealistically optimistic, considering the slow start mobile broadcast TV has had in the UK. The only real commitment so far has come from Virgin Mobile, which launched a mobile-television service back in 2006. However, in July this year, Virgin announced it would be pulling the plug on the service, after only reportedly signing up around 10,000 subscribers.

Holden acknowledges Virgin's service had its drawbacks but said mobile TV is already popular in other countries.

Holden said: "Virgin made a lot of mistakes. The service only had four channels. It only launched on one handset. The quality of the service wasn't great. If you compare this with 3 Italia, which launched a mobile broadcast TV service 16 months ago with more handsets, a differential pricing policy and bundling with other services, it's managed to sign up half a million subscribers in less than 12 months."

Holden predicted that the traditional early adopters in the Far East, such as Japan and Korea, would probably be the most lucrative markets for the service, although he admitted that even by the next decade revenues will be a drop in the ocean compared to global TV spend as a whole.

"Revenues will be comparable to an organisation like BSkyB on its own," Holden said.

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