Cellphones poised to be main channel for TV, video

Mobile operators, broadcasters and content providers are looking at mobile TV as a vehicle to drive revenue and mobilize their brands. However, simply delivering TV content over the mobile device is not enough to drive adoption.

Mobile TV is a viewing experience that’s very focused on the individual. Personalized and interactive service capabilities on mobile devices will be  key catalysts to not only drive adoption but also the use of the underlying network assets. Broadcast standards such as digital video broadcasting handheld, digital audio broadcast , cell mobile multimedia broadcasting technology based on STiMi (satellite and terrestrial interactive multiservice infrastructure) are ideal for live program streaming.

However, interactive services that leverage presence, location, messaging and so on, are not economically viable over dedicated broadcast networks alone. 3G and 4G mobile broadband network technologies – such as UMTS, HSDPA, CDMA EV-DO Rev A, Wimax, LTE -- can also be used to develop interactive services for dedicated mobile TV broadcasts.

The promise of mobile broadcast and broadband technologies come with complexities including ecosystem management, business models, service creation and end-user services. Ecosystem players -- including broadcasters, content providers, mobile network operators (MNOs), advertisers -- and retailers need to consider flexible business models, differentiated multimedia services and ways to mobilize their brands to strengthen their position while offering premium services to the end-users.

The emergence of 3G and 4G mobile broadband networks will drive adoption for mobile content applications with enhanced end-user experience. With operators looking to justify return on investment on 3G and 4G licenses, mobile TV and rich content services are becoming a key strategy to stimulate demand and drive increased revenues. 

Nowadays, viewers have less time for TV in its traditional form. This makes it important for broadcasters to deliver content through a platform that enables consumers to ‘graze’ on programming during times when regular TV isn’t available — on the commute, in the coffee shop or at the airport.

The creation of immersive, less static forms of content will be crucial to realizing the expected explosive growth in the audience for mobile TV.

For end-users, mobile TV is a highly convenient service because idle time becomes entertainment time. They can also access the programming in real-time or remotely transfer content to their mobile device from the personal video recorder or internet sites.

With time-shifting capabilities built into devices, the content can be paused and played for a versatile viewing experience. Such interaction between the user’s mobile device with time-shift and place-shift functionalities will deliver a seamless communications experience and create stickiness for mobile video services.

As consumers become used to being involved in their chosen form of entertainment — whether it’s voting for their pop idol or sharing a video clip of their favorite sports player — it’s increasingly clear that offering innovative interactive services will be essential to the success of mobile TV.

Baits for adoption: personalization, interactivity

MNOs can take advantage of the capabilities of 3G, LTE and Wimax and leverage network enablers such as presence, location and messaging to deliver contextual interactive services based on the content the end-user is watching. They can also provide convenient mobile commerce capabilities to sell merchandise related to the content. Further personalization can be enabled with electronic service guides that can recommend content to the end-users based on their viewing history and profile.

Offering a comprehensive mobile TV solution can be made more efficient with a service delivery platform that can act as a control point, allowing service providers to manage their offerings with a unified services layer. This allows for a more efficient development and application management environment and re-use of some existing assets such as billing, messaging and video infrastructure.

Some of the key areas around which the services layer proposition could be built for creating a compelling mobile TV experience include optimizing devices such that video, mobility and interactive capabilities become central to the device functionality.

Other areas are integration with content delivery systems, with service management systems, and with digital right management systems. Still another is rapid service deployment wherein services such as voting, social networking applications, location-based targeted advertising and mobile commerce are easily and quickly deployable.

Venkat Eswara is director of applications and mobile video marketing at Motorola's global marketing and communications unit


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