Wireless carriers are seeking new revenue streams to compensate for declining voice service revenues caused by increased competition. Content producers and TV broadcasters need to deliver their content through as many distribution channels as possible, and mobile TV broadcasting adds another way to maximize their inventory. Many consider mobile TV as a major potential revenue generator in coming years.
The primary drivers for the widespread adoption of mobile TV include the strong demand for existing TV content, the creation and availability of customized mobile content, interactive services and programming, new (fashionable) mobile TV devices, and the increasing global mobile phone penetration. In-Stat, a market research firm, projects there will be 102 million mobile TV broadcast subscribers worldwide by the end of 2010, up from 3.4 million in 2006, with much of the growth coming from India, China, Africa and Latin America. Datamonitor, a market research firm, predicted there were approximately 4.4 million mobile broadcast TV subscribers at the end of 2006, expected to grow to 155.6 million by 2012.
As a potential thorn in the sides of mobile carriers, placeshifting companies allow users to access their home TV through a mobile device from anywhere in the world, without incurring a monthly fee. The disruptive nature of placeshifting has the potential to follow closely on the heels of the disruptive impact on the music industry initiated by the introduction of the Apple IPOD, Napster, and other Internet music download sites. ABI, a market research firm, expects the placeshifting market will grow from under $22 million in 2006 to $740 million by 2011. As the technology is in its infancy it is experiencing growing pains, and legal issues arise from the copyright usage of re-broadcasting material. This has put large players in a bit of a quandary, as initial versions of this technology adapt to the legal framework. For wireless operators, placeshifting has a risk of disrupting their mobile TV content services business.