TV Broadcasters Also Threaten Mobile Video
Mobile video has it’s share of uncertainty. Do users even want it? Then there is an industry debate between unicast and broadcast. Then there is the Elephant in the corner that I think is the biggest threat to carriers, Modio, Hiwire, and Qualcomm: sideloading. But let’s not neglect another powerful threat: existing TV Broadcasters also are intent on continuing to own the role of broadcaster, and extending that role to the mobile space. The National Association of Broadcasters formed the Open Mobile Video Coalition with the intent of broadcasting their local TV content in a digital format suitable for specially equipped mobile phones. While this strategy has already become reality in Japan, where phone users can tune into free broadcast digital TV, it is no slam dunk in the US, where phone subsidies run high. The customers will like ‘free’. But any mobile video solution that cuts the carriers out of the loop is unlikely to appear in any handset that is subsidized by the carriers. Thus, phones that pick up free TV signals are likely to cost $200 more than similar counterparts – that’s not free. If the cellular market were a totally competitive market, then some carrier would “defect” and offer the free TV phones simply in order to stab at the competition, and win a few customers. But in an oligopoly, it is unlikely that the carriers will defect, and free broadcast TV phones won’t get much traction.