The European DMB project MI FRIENDS (Mobile Interactive Favorite Television, Radio, Interactivity, Entertainment and New Digital Services) in Munich, Germany, which began June 7 prior to the beginning of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Soccer tournament, wrapped up Aug. 31 revealing strong interest among test participants in receiving video on the go.
Six TV channels and two audio channels were broadcast in the Munich area during the trial, as well as a commercial offering of MFD Mobiles Fernsehen Deutschland and DAB distributed programs.
ANTENNE BAYERN, the Bayerische Rundfunk, the Dienstleistungsgesellschaft der Bayerischen Lokalradioprogramme (BLR), the Deutsches SportFernsehen (DSF), Das Erste, Focus TV, Deutsche Welle, münchen.tv, Plazamedia TV & Film Produktion, NOVA RADIO and the British digital radio channel talkSPORT were available as part of the project.
About 190 participants took part in the project, initially receiving the World Cup games. The trial showed that a large-scale event like the tournament ignited interest in the service because it offered those in transit a way to stay up to date on game results.
During the tournament, 90 percent of the participants used their mobile phones to watch soccer. The central reason for watching the games on cell phones was the ability to view action while traveling. Participants also demonstrated interest in being able to watch well-known TV programs during a trip.
Participants showed a preference for classic TV programs; however, they also demonstrated that mobile viewing is much different than home viewing. Users watched briefer snippets of programming lasting 15 minutes or less.
The Munich trial also showed that Mobile TV was rarely consumed for recreational purposes, but more for receiving the latest news and as a way of passing time. Important opportunities for mobile TV reception were bus or rail trips, waiting times and leisure activities.
At the end of the eight-week test phase, half of the participants would use the service even if they were billed for it. Fewer than 10 percent did not want to use the mobile phone service.
The next phase of the MI FRIENDS project will start on Sept. 28 in Regensburg and is scheduled to last two years. In contrast to the Munich project, local content and business models are the focus of interest in the Regensburg trial. The target is to identify how local content can be prepared to assure high user acceptance.
For more information, visit: www.mi-friends.org.