Mobile DTV: $10 Billion Market Predicted

Even with the tough economic outlook, mobile DTV is moving forward.

“Clearly, broadcasters are poised to launch mobile TV in 2009,” said Anne Schelle, executive director of the Open Mobile Video Coalition in a Web teleconference Wednesday sponsored by BIA Financial Network, a Chantilly, Va.-based researcher. She said that between advertising and pay-TV deals, broadcasters could soon reach $10 billion in annual revenues.

Schelle said a candidate standard is expected in December. That could take another six months before approval. She said consumer devices will be shown at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in January, with working systems ready by the 2009 NAB Show in April.

She said broadcasters are gunning for a consumer trial in the spring with full launches later in the year.

Schelle and other mobile DTV boosters foresee an explosion in opportunities in mobile DTV. Already, some 200 million mobile video devices are being sold nationwide this year. A $10 chip is all that will be needed in future models to receive ATSC signals, she said.

Schelle also said broadcasters, with their favored content and long community ties, will provide the blend of national and local content that viewers will favor. Television content tops the list of what people want in mobile devices, she said.

Along with HDTV on the large screen and digital multicasts, “Mobile from our perspective can be the third leg of the stool in the digital TV proposition,” she said.

Mead Eblan of BIAfn said that studies show people will pay for mobile DTV if price, quality and reliability improved.

BIA says mobile DTV will not involve major additional costs for stations relative to the revenue it could produce.

Mobile DTV fans also anticipate the emergence of applications such as location-based features (such as search results and ads). Reserach says users also want cross-platform functionality (moving content easily among phone, IM, Web and other networks) and would like to deal with just one entity for all the interfaces in a multi-screen world—a development limited less by technology than by current business relationships.

In tough times, mobile DTV might be “a Godsend” for broadcasters in terms of potential additional revenue streams, however small, said BIA Chief Strategy Officer Rick Ducey.