Australia got a big boost this week in mobile TV as Optus launched Optus TV Now, a service that allows users to record, schedule and play back free OTA television programs using any 3G-compatible mobile device as well as a standard PC.
Starting with a block of 15 channels, the new service acts as a mini DVR, where consumers can choose the programs they want, schedule it to record and then watch it on the go wherever they want. Since the shows are recorded digitally, there is less concern about signal loss and being in certain areas for coverage. The programs are available on demand right from the user's phone. Many of their customers have wanted this type of service, and Optus thought it was the right time leveraging with current storage technology to bring it to the masses.
How many shows can you store? That all depends on the plan you choose and what your current budget is. The company realized there would be different needs for different users and have attempted to roll out plans (within reasonable prices) that will work for just about everyone. Every Optus customer will get 45 minutes of free storage right out of the gate with the Optus TV Now Basic plan. Granted that is not a tremendous amount, roughly equivalent to about one or two short shows, however it's a great start for people who want to at least try out the service. If that works out well, you can step up to the Optus TV Now Standard Plan, which provides five hours of storage time for the rate of $6.99 per month. Power users however will be most interested in the Optus TV Now Premium Plan, which provides a generous 20 hours of storage time for only $9.99 per month.
The service marks an important step that many other providers may end up following. With the acceptance of mobile TV and the widespread worldwide use that continues to ramp up, consumers are beginning to want television programs to be scheduled around them and to not rely on appointment TV, where they have to tune in at a specific time. With the dramatic acceptance of DVRs in the past decade, consumers are already accustomed to getting what they want, exactly when they want it, so having this option for mobile makes perfect sense. Optus hopes that this new plan will expand nicely and allow several tiers of options depending on how much content users are going to want to archive. The fact that users can also use their PC as well as their mobile device is a nice bonus. The company will continue to monitor customers' needs and is sure to have a hit on their hands as mobile users can now schedule TV around their own lives.