Mobile broadcast multimedia: a $1.6 billion market

Mobile broadcast multimedia: a $1.6 billion market

By J. Gerry Purdy

There are many companies investing lots of money in mobile broadcast multimedia content and yet little is certain about the overall market for this type of entertainment. Vikrant Gandhi at Frost & Sullivan has just published his first forecast on the mobile broadcast multimedia market (Figure 1).

Frost has taken a more conservative estimate than a lot of the vendors have done by estimating 25 million subscribers by the end of 2011. Note that this is for subscribers to mobile broadcast multimedia services. The number of mobile users who may access a unicast 'on demand' service at some time would, of course, be much higher. We may increase the forecast if market traction is higher than expected.

In this forecast, we also estimate that the market size will be in excess of $1.6 billion. This is estimated by taking $9.95/month times 25 million subscribers times 12 months. This includes all wireless operators. Again, the forecast is conservative until we get some real indication of how fast the market for mobile broadcast multimedia services will grow.

With mobile broadcast multimedia services, subscribers will be able to select one of up to eight TV programs during the day or one of 12 music and audio channels or include data services as part of the videostream. And, at night subscribers are able to download applications and data using 'datacasting' services.

Just as in cable TV, mobile broadcast multimedia services will provide an electronic service guide (ESG) to view the schedule of programs, both video, music and data. For example, Roundbox has an exclusive license with TV Guide. Some services providers will offer DVR functionality to allow subscribers to record a show for playback at a more convenient time. I believe that this is a critically important feature of mobile broadcast multimedia because people are not always able to watch something live during the day. It would be great to get out of a meeting and then play back the latest news, financial or sports highlights.

Mobile broadcast TV will require between 150 and 350 Kbps, while mobile broadcast audio services (music, talk shows, etc.) will require 20-40 Kbps and mobile broadcast datacasting services will require 5-30 Kbps depending on how rich in content the data is being cast to the mobile handsets. An average of 6-8 MHz of spectrum enables simultaneous streaming of 10 video channels, 15-20 audio channels and additional datacasting services.

Here's a good example of the kind of dynamic datacasting services users can expect. Imagine seeing SportsCenter highlights on one mobile TV channel while statistics and score summaries are cast along the bottom of the display. Or, think of watching financial highlights while market closing figures are broadcast along the bottom of the screen. Or, think of a pitch-by-pitch baseball game data cast service that takes up the entire display.

J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., is the vice president and chief analyst, mobile & wireless at Frost & Sullivan.