BBC calls halt to live mobile TV plan; lack of user interest blamed

Having trialled the service for 12 months, the BBC said it would halt plans to agree on syndication deals with operators to deliver mobile TV. The TV broadcaster said trials involving Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile, 3 and Sky had failed to gain user interest, and the results "suggested that the level of demand for content delivered via 3G was uncertain and may, at least in the short to medium term, be relatively small."

Despite the trial attracting fewer than 600 mobile users per day--at its peak--the BBC has insisted this poor level of uptake was not the reason for a much wider review of the syndication of linear TV channels to mobile and other platforms. "Nor are BBC plans for mobile TV coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games impacted by the decision," said a spokesman.

This strategic review would seem to have been triggered by the ongoing success of the BBC's iPlayer that is already available via 3G and Wi-Fi, whereas the review into syndication is centred on whether these channels are integrated into mobile operators' portals.

This backtracking by the BBC comes at a time when most European operators (other than Switzerland, Holland and Italy's 3) have effectively abandoned plans for DVB-H, while at the same time offering limited enthusiasm to push expensive 3G bandwidth as a means of accessing mobile TV.

However, according to Screen Digest, the number of unicast mobile TV subscribers (using 3G) is expected to triple over the next 5 years, mainly driven by events in France which is forecast to have 64 per cent of the European market by 2013. France is enjoying this relative success because of its bundling policy, combining mobile TV access in its high-end 3G contracts.

For more on this story:
Mobile Today
and RapidTV News

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