Saturday, 10 November 2007
Mobile tv in South Korea
Interesting article from The Economist: mobile tv is a success in South Korea.
The journalist forgot to write the name of the standard of the terrestrial mobile tv: DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting), a standard that was on trial for 6 months in Italy and it should be used soon by state tv Rai. DMB is an evolution of DAB-Eureka147.
Sep 6th 2007 SEOUL
Lessons from South Korea's experiment with mobile TV
RIDE on the Seoul metro or take a bus around the city's streets and you will see passengers gazing at their mobile phones with rapt attention, earplugs firmly in place. They are watching television. Since the first services were launched in 2005, mobile-TV services have garnered over 7.5m customers. The signals are delivered via terrestrial and satellite broadcasts, a far more efficient approach than sending individual data streams to each viewer's handset, as is mostly done in other countries.
Of the 6.3m users of the terrestrial service, which is free, about one-third watch on their phones, and the rest on screens installed in motor vehicles or on other portable devices. Another 1.2m people watch the satellite service, which costs about $11 a month. The government predicts that by the end of next year the number of terrestrial customers will reach 10.8m and the number of satellite subscribers will grow to 2.8m. In other words, more than one-quarter of the population will be tuning in.
SK Telecom, the biggest mobile operator, has been pushing the satellite service, which is offered by its subsidiary, TU Media. It has spent about $435m on the service so far and needs 2.5m subscribers to break even, says Kwang Heo of TU. Its customers are mostly sports-loving young men. Soap operas and variety shows were at first available only with a time delay, but in July TU struck a deal with MBC, Korea's biggest private broadcaster, to provide a live feed.
Meanwhile SK Telecom's two main rivals, KTF and LG Telecom, have been pushing the free terrestrial service. Although it cannot charge for it, KTF hopes that mobile TV will bring in new customers and enable it to sell more expensive handsets and service plans. Soap operas and news bulletins are the most popular programmes, it says. Providers of the terrestrial service grumble that advertising revenue does not yet cover their costs. MBC says there need to be 10m terrestrial users for its dedicated mobile-TV channel to break even. The clear winners in all this are the handset-makers, Samsung and LG, which have been able to sell lots of pricey new phones, says Ahn Taegho of MBC.
But even if mobile TV does prove successful in South Korea, it does not necessarily bode well for similar services elsewhere. Its rapid rise in South Korea is largely due to the government, which set technology standards, allocated spectrum and insisted on a free terrestrial service to promote uptake, thus kick-starting the market—none of which is likely to happen in Europe or America.