U.S. consumers want mobile television, or so says the Open Mobile Video Coalition. A study of 1,007 people ages 18 to 59 conducted on behalf of the group found that nearly 90 percent of mobile device owners expressed interest in watching live news and weather programming on the go.
The appeal of mobile TV is particularly high among early adopters of new technology and adults between the ages of 18 and 29. Almost half of mobile device owners surveyed found the idea of watching live digital television on a mobile device “appealing.”
The study called smartphones a “catalyst” for the adoption of mobile television. “People who get them become more than device owners. They adopt a mobile lifestyle. Live mobile DTV fits very nicely into that mobile lifestyle,” said Jaime Spencer, director of Magid Media Labs, which conducted the study. “As the number of smartphones increases, so will the demand for live mobile DTV.”
The study’s optimistic findings are contrary to the state of the mobile television market in the United States, which has been hampered by slow uptake among consumers. The service, offered by Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Flo TV, has not ramped due to limited content and market availability.
“The mobile landscape is exploding, yet we don’t see a clear leader in [the mobile television] space,” Spencer said. “This is especially true for the local picture. We believe that broadcasters have the opportunity to own this platform locally, but they need to be aggressive and have content that will drive use.”
Live programming, called “critical” to the overall mobile television mix in the study, is widely absent from Flo TV’s content, with the notable exception of some sports coverage. Few local broadcasters have begun a mobile DTV service, and there are only a small number of devices on the market with the ATSC receiver necessary to view mobile television.
Flo TV’s recently launched Personal Television device has been criticized for its low screen resolution and content listings. Until yesterday, the service had just 10 channels. It recently added ABC Mobile and Disney to its lineup.
The study found that live programming is essential to mobile television content. Just over 50 percent said they want live content versus just 18 percent who preferred a strictly on-demand model.