by Carlo Longino

Filed Under:
business models, mobile tv

Mobile TV Backers Figuring Out That People Don't Want To Pay For It

from the maybe-next-year dept

For several years, companies pushing mobile TV services have been saying an explosion in their popularity is just around the corner. But consumer uptake has been tepid, as their business model of charging a monthly fee for linear broadcast video that can't be time-shifted or recorded -- you know, the same kind of TV people are shifting away from in their living rooms -- hasn't struck a chord. Even in markets like Korea and Japan, often talked about as some of the most advanced mobile markets in the world, people have shied away from paid mobile TV services. So after a few years of not really going anywhere, mobile TV companies are starting to think that maybe they should start thinking about changing their business model (via Engadget) from a subscription-based service to an ad-supported one. Perhaps that's a start, but just as important as the charge to end users is the service offering: trying to force users back to a schedule-based broadcast system is always going to be an uphill battle in an on-demand world.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 17th, 2009 @ 10:02pm

    This is another classic problem of users wanting everything and being willing to pay for none of it.

    Broadcasting is much cheaper. A single channel of data that is seen by all is way less cost intensive than maintaining seperate and individual data channels for each end user. There is no cost involved in scaling with broadcast, once you cover your area with the broadcast, your costs are fixed.

    I think they will likely end up with the model that cable and sat companies have landed on: OTA tv is free, get it if you like. Their serives costs $x per month. PPV movies are $X more per movie. Users class themselves according to their ability or desire to pay.

    One size fits all isn't the solution, but neither is cowing in to end users demands for everything for nothing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Michael Long, Mar 17th, 2009 @ 10:40pm

    Mobile TV

    Mobile TV has to be on-demand, as tuning in when you're out and about is largely an unscheduled process.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2009 @ 10:40pm

    You can try to sell me whatever you'd like to.

    If I don't like it I am free to not purchase it and (as I do now) watch video I have selected and uploaded into my phone, on my schedule and pausing when I wish.

    If you actually want my money you are going to have to make something BETTER than what I have now.
    Better has many forms but (at least for me) none of those are it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Superdude, Mar 17th, 2009 @ 10:55pm

    Why the hell should the end user pay for broadcast, scheduled tv when it is available for free. Weird Harold I think the classic problem is people complaining about human nature to want everything for nothing. The end user does not care if the people broadcasting tv can pay the bills or not. It is all about 'me', for most people. Its the same underlying reason people change the channel when the news reports things like genocide in Africa. If it does not affect them or their family they don't care. All that matters is the value they get out of something, not whether the producer of said thing can feed their children or not. It is sad but that's how it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    theskyrider (profile), Mar 18th, 2009 @ 3:10am

    Oh, so wrong...

    "This is another classic problem of users wanting everything and being willing to pay for none of it."

    No, this is an example of the content creators being too rigid in their selling practices.

    Sell me a TV episode, online, DRM-Free, for a reasonable fee. I say $1.50, because that is what their shows average out on DVD, (some more, some less,) and I will buy it.

    If I have the freedom to watch, convert, and transfer to the device of MY CHOICE... I will buy it. Everything else is not worth my time.

    The Music Industry found this out, it will just take a little longer for the Motion Picture Industry to do the same.

    If there are any industry shills watching this board, report this back to your masters: Your free digital copy is a joke.

    Everybody knows that those 'free digital copies' aren't going to be 'free' forever and that you are just trying to take away our rights and sell them back to us piecemeal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    WarDialer, Mar 18th, 2009 @ 6:09am

    Here is my take

    While I agree with theskyrider, I have another take.
    Watching TV on a cell phone has almost no purpose. The video looks like 1995 web video, and to be honest after the initial novelty of it wears off, you forget you have it until you get the bill.
    When was the last time you saw someone eating their lunch staring at a 2 inch screen and actually enjoy it. It might work better if they had on demand programming that you could playback whenever (The Hulu model) but "linear" TV on a cell phone is dead on arrival in my opinion. If someone wants to watch TV, they will go home to their HD set-up and sit on the couch with the TV service they already have and pay for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    hegemon13, Mar 18th, 2009 @ 6:31am

    Central DVR

    Mobile TV should funtion more like a centralized DVR, or like the cable OnDemand services. The user should have an organized list of everything available, and be able to pick and choose what to watch on their schedule.

    Of course, we all know what happened to Comcast when they tried that, so maybe that won't happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    :Lobo Santo, Mar 18th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Grass Roots

    (Supply meet demand.)

    How to make a service people want:
    1. Make something YOU want. Be sure to make it scalable, just in case.
    2. Let some friends know, maybe throw together a little website or whatever.
    3. If people want what you've put up, it'll expand.
    4. Sell now booming service to sucker investors so they can ruin/monetize it.
    5. Go to step 1.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    KeithChosen, Mar 18th, 2009 @ 9:36am

    I think some of these guys are starting to figure it out. I have MobiTV's Mobi4Biz on my AT&T BlackBerry Bold, and it's sorta this on-demand/broadcast hybrid. Sure, you get live CNBC and Bloomberg and a couple other business channels, but you also set up a watchlist for your stocks, so you get videos delivered (PUSHED) to the app based on your interests. So when Jim Cramer makes another bad suggestion on a stock you're interested in, you get it, like, immediately. i think this hybrid model has legs....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Mar 18th, 2009 @ 9:58am


    > This is another classic problem of users wanting everything and being willing to pay for none of it.

    And who's fault is that really? The industry has conditioned us all to thinking that TV is something that is "free" that can just be grabbed out of the either with nothing more than a coat hanger.

    "TV for free" is nothing more than the status quo.

    I am listening to Pandora right now. Except for the lack of commercials and vastly superior playlist, it's an experience nearly indistinguishable from FM radio.

    You know radio: "Where you get music for free."

    You really do reap what you sow.

    If I want to pay for content then I can BUY IT, OWN IT and then shove it in any medium I want (including mobile).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    bob, Mar 18th, 2009 @ 11:03am

    podcatcher for TV

    What my HTPC gives me is more like a podcatcher for TV. It picks up the shows when they stream (are broadcast) then I can watch the show where and when I like ... even on a mobile device. Half the time I just end up watching the commercials anyway, and watching on a mobile device is a pain so i really don't do it. It would be nice to be able to do this without feeling like a criminal or trying to have someone sell me a sub-standard service that doesn't quite do the same thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    TheStuipdOne, Mar 18th, 2009 @ 12:19pm


    "This is another classic problem of users wanting everything and being willing to pay for none of it."

    That reminds me of economics 101 price vs. value. If users want something they will pay for it if price

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Amitabh, Mar 19th, 2009 @ 3:10am

    Go from Free to Pay

    There are broadly two impediments to getting users to watch mobile TV: The handset which works for the network and overcoming the fear of users in what they will end up paying. It is a great idea to let people watch shows for free, get used to doing it, have a handset ready and then introducung pay channels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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