Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Live Mobile TV vs. Video Clip Push

Despite all the buzz surrounding mobile broadcast TV services such as DVB-H, T-DMB and MediaFlo, there is still a basic question that remains unanswered: Will users be willing to pay a monthly service fee to access live broadcast TV content on the go, when they are already used to on-demand access to video content using PVRs, cable TV VOD services, and the Internet? Mobile broadcast TV seems to be a step back in the direction of scheduled programming, in which the viewing time of each show is fixed, and not adapted to the user's own schedule. Since market research has shown that mobile consumption of video content is typically done in a "snacking" mode, each time the user has a few minutes to spare and wants to "kill time", the user might prefer to have video clips that interest him pre-downloaded to his handset, so he can watch them during these periods, rather than spend some of that precious time searching for something interesting to watch on the live broadcast TV channels.

As I mentioned in a previous post, two possibilities for watching TV programs on the mobile device when you want them are using a built in Personal Video Recorder (PVR) in the mobile TV handset, or using the filecasting service which is part of DVB-H and MediaFlo, and enables video clips to be "pushed" to the end user for offline viewing. Bamboo MediaCasting is offering another solution, which enables users to subscribe to video clip channels according to their preferences. These clips are "pushed" to the user over current mobile data networks such as GPRS, EDGE and UMTS in offline, and a smart client on the handset manages the required storage and the displays the clips. This enables operators to launch a service which is similar to the DVB-H "filecasting" service today, using their existing cellular networks and existing handsets. One of the advantages of the "managed push" service over streaming or user-initiated download is that the operator can control when to push the content to the handset - such push can occur, for example, during off-peak hours to balance the congestion on their network and reduce the cost of delivery. Nokia is offering a similar service called Nokia Media Charger, but it is only available on Nokia handsets.


Anonymous said...

You mentoin that several mobile phones already have a PVR embedded. Could you give some examples of such phones?

With regard to filecasting; is that enabling some type of on-demand content on broadcasting networks?

Dror Gill said...

Regarding the PVR: LG TD-1200, LG SB-130, Pantech PT-S130 and KDDI/Hitachi W41H all have built-in PVRs.

Regardng filecasting: This is a "push" type service, where files are sent to all subscribers through the broadcast channel. Users can decide whether to keep the files in the handset memory for later viewing, or not. If the files are sent in a cyclic loop (sometimes called "Media Carousel" service), and the user selects which ones to store, you can view this as some kind of on-demand content download service.