European mobile TV still breathing, but only just

Having been hailed by many as the next evolution in cellular technology, mobile TV in Europe has comprehensively failed to succeed. The latest status report from the Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum lists country after country where mobile TV launches have either stalled, are late or have not met with much visible success.

The Forum blames the lack of attractive mobile TV handsets as the prime cause behind the many failures, but also claims that many European operators are no longer actively marketing mobile broadcast TV services.

An example is Austria which launched its mobile TV services in 2008 to coincide with the European football championships and had 10,000 DVB-H subscribers by the end of October 2008. However, Media Broadcast, the Austrian mobile broadcast service provider, said that it had not gained any more subscribers since then and would not renew its contract with the mobile operators at the end of 2010.

Similar depressing reports were also true, according to the Forum, for Germany, Czech Republic, France, Hungary and Switzerland. Other countries, such as Russia and Poland, were still trialling the service and had yet to decide on a launch date.

However, Italy and the Netherlands have both made progress with mobile TV. Vodafone Italy and TIM rent services from Mediaset, while 3 Italy is pursuing a vertically integrated model, having acquired Canale 7 in 2005. But growth has been slow due to a lack of handset availability, and consumers being offered little free to air content. 

In the Netherlands KPN launched services in 2008, and said it had 40,000 users by the end of November 2009 - with a market offering of free services for the first 24 months.

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