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Screen Digest predicts Europe to dominate mobile TV market share by 2011

A new report from Screen Digest predicts significant growth in the number of subscribers to mobile TV services across Asia, Europe and North America over the next three years, with broadcast becoming the dominant delivery model.

In the report, “Mobile TV: Business Models and Opportunities,” the research firm says the number of mobile TV subscribers will grow to 140 million by 2011, with revenues approaching close to €4.4 billion (or $6.4 billion) globally. North America will experience the biggest increase, growing its subscriber base 20 fold to 287.8 million and revenue as much as 50 fold by 2011. Europe is set to generate the most amount of revenue from mobile TV services, taking a 42.5 percent share of global revenues over the U.S. (40.5 percent) and Asia (17 percent).

As for the two delivery methods for mobile TV — broadcast and unicast — Screen Digest believes broadcast will become the most prevalent way of delivering television to mobile devices. Unicast services will become more of a niche market, with operators and other stakeholders complementing it with premium and value-added services. This bodes well for traditional broadcasters looking to generate revenue from repurposing content, because the broadcast method generally allows them more control over their delivery mechanisms.

Less optimistically, Screen Digest doesn’t see that in the short term, network operators will make much of a profit from offering mobile TV services, although they will generally be forced by market competition to offer them. Although mobile TV will attract more and more viewers in the near term, significant revenues will not be realized until 2011.

Ronan de Renesse, author of the report, said, “The free-to-air services are the success stories for subscriber uptake, yet business models for mobile pay-TV are still to be proven.” He added that content owners and handset manufacturers could see more revenues now by offering a different distribution channel or selling more expensive handsets. Operators, on the other hand, could gain by moving more subscribers to contracts.

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