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Mobile TV comes home, literally

Posted by iNext - 2006-03-05

DUBLIN — Speakers at the DVB World conference Thursday (March 2) found themselves explaining the surprising phenomenon of "mobile home TV," but it had nothing to do with television viewing in trailer parks.

Typical consumers, said speaker Marcus Lundqvist, director of server and network solutions at Nokia, like to watch TV on their mobile phones while they're at home.

According to a pilot study of TV-on-mobile telephones recently concluded in Oxford, England, fifty percent of people watching TV on mobile handsets were not really moving at all. They were inside their own houses. Nokia provided handsets.

One participant at the DVB conference said this result "doesn’t sound right." John Cullen, Mobile TV Strategy Manager for O2, the British company that ran the Oxford trial, agreed. "We were shocked, too," he said. But he added that, "People liked the utility of having a TV they could walk around with" from room to room.

He said that the mobile activities of the Oxford viewers included taking the mobile phone to the bathroom, watching TV in the bathtub, and using it to listen to music in bed. In detailing these usage patterns, Cullen suggested a basic human impulse that might explain the oddity of people watching a mini-screen television while two or more full-size TVs were within an arm’s reach. People are selfish.

"People in the trial," he said, "valued that it was personal to them, that they had control of the TV."

Next most popular occasions for watching TV-on-mobile, Lindqvist revealed, were during commuting hours and during lunch breaks.

Overall, the Oxford trial clearly established trends that developers of mobile TV had hoped for. Among the 375 Oxford households equipped with TV-enabled handsets, 83 percent expressed satisfaction with the services, which included all the most popular television channels available in the United Kingdom. More than three-quarters also said they would be willing to pay a reasonable monthly fee— usually cited as five pounds, or about seven euros or $10 for mobile TV service.

This result tracked with studies conducted in Spain, where satisfaction was gauged at 75 percent and willingness-to-pay at 55 percent, and in Paris, where the respective numbers were 73 and 68 percent.

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