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.

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Comments on “TV Broadcasters Also Threaten Mobile Video”

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Industry Analyst says:

We don't need no stinking cellular companies

The real threat is from broadcasters who want to continue their life as they’ve lived it for the past 50 years. . . free broadcasts over spectrum they already own, delivering the signals to a device that the consumers pay fo themselves.

Getting mobile carriers involved is a needless and unwanted complication

“Cellular companies? We don’t need no stinking cellular companies.”

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

But We Do...

RE #1:

We shouldn’t need the cellphone companies, but the reality is the existence of subsidies gives them enormous power to continue to control the entire ecosystem.

Because they subsidize cell phones by some $200, they can control what goes into the cellphone, and its capabilities. If something threatens a carrier business model, like a free TV receiver, or Bluetooth data transfers they will: a) not pay for it, and b) have it removed or disabled. Since carriers are the real customer for Nokia, Samsung, Moto, etc. these vendors will give their customer what it wants.

If sheeple were willing to pay the full cost, up-front, for their mobile devices then the consumer could dictate the device’s functionality. I paid $500 for my unlocked Treo from Palm at the same time as Cingular was offering their locked version for about $275. How many people, other than IT departments, do that?

The average consumer isn’t willing to shell out the extra $200 upfront that buys then control. They will always migrate to the subsidized phone, and thus carriers retain their control.


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