Carolyn Schuk /
10.19.2009 04:13 PM
Will PC, mobile screens displace living room TV set for sports viewing?

Just as sports are considered the tipping point for mobile TV, so, too, they were for mobile TV's parent. For example, here's a story from The New York Times, July 11, 1937:

"With the telecasts of the 1937 Wimbledon tennis matches, the British Broadcasting Corporation has established what is called 'another landmark in the history of television'" and "…enabled viewers to watch the event in their homes almost as clearly as if they were in Wimbledon."

Then, as now, people liked being able to see and hear sports events. So it's no surprise that sports continue to be among the most popular mobile TV fare.

Now Juniper Research's Windsor Holden is speculating that at some point the mobile screen may displace the living room screen as the outlet of choice for sports franchises. His conjecture is based on the recent move by international sports agency Kentaro to limit broadcast of a Ukraine/England soccer match to the Internet because no UK broadcasters bid for it.

Holden dubs this "the end of sports broadcasting … We are on the cusp of the largest shake-up in sporting rights since BSkyB drove a coach and horses through the UK terrestrial broadcasters duopoly in the early 1990s."

The ultimate upset, whether by Internet TV or mobile TV, depends on several factors, starting with bandwidth. In this case, Kentaro limited the broadcast to 1 million viewers to protect service quality — not exactly a ringing endorsement of the technology. "It is all very well closing the gates at the stadium when all the tickets are sold," writes Holden, "but when in addition you start slamming the doors on the virtual supporters … then one might suggest that not only does this raise the question of whether the stream is adequate, but that it answers it as well, and answers in the negative."

However, Holden doesn't anticipate that the bandwidth problem will keep mobile and Internet from eating away at fixed TV's hegemony for very long. With some European sports franchises already operating their own TV channels, and many with content deals with mobile operators, he points out the inevitable. "If … bargaining agreements for Premiership rights transitions to the model operating in Italy, whereby individual clubs sell their rights to the broadcasters, then it might well be that some football clubs feel that they can get the best deal from the mobile networks."



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