As the number of mobile handsets set up to receive free-to-air analogue and digital terrestrial television signals grows, dedicated mobile broadcast TV revenues are expected to face uncertain times ahead, according to mobile analyst firm Juniper Research.
The report, Mobile TV:Opportunities for Streamed & Broadcast Services, 2008-2013, revealed that consumer spending on mobile broadcast TV should reach $2.7bn (£1.6bn) by 2013, a significant figure, but markedly lower than previous expectations.
The report predicts that, while more than 330 million mobile users worldwide will own broadcast TV-enabled handsets by 2013, less than 14 per cent will opt for paid-for mobile TV services.
"The development of terrestrial TV-capable receivers with comparatively low-power consumption, and the availability of these receivers in mass market handsets, throws into question the business case for the deployment of a dedicated network in many markets," explained the report's author Dr Windsor Holden.
However, Holden also noted that this trend has created a further opportunity for streamed TV services.
"There will always be a market for some form of premium TV service on the mobile handset, and with broadcast TV in many markets likely to consist simply of the free-to-air terrestrial signals, the gap in the market is likely to be filled by streamed video-on-demand services over the 3G network," he added.
Holden explained to vnunet.com that the differing standards and licensing models around the world have created a " complicated picture worldwide and particularly in the EU" both for mobile operators and handset manufacturers.
Installing a mobile broadcast network would be a major cost for an operator and it would probably take several years to break even and start becoming profitable, Holden said, making it a very serious investment decision when considering the threat from free-to-air services.
He highlighted the current case in Germany whereby, although DVB-H licences were granted, the operator decisions to offer DVB-T handsets effectively closed the door for DVB-H.
Whereas in the US, where a free-to-air service is not feasible, chip maker Qualcomm has worked closely with the major mobile providers such as Verizon and AT&T to ensure that a solid base line has been reached.
The US is expected to be the largest single market for mobile broadcast TV revenues in 2013, followed by South Korea and China.
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