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South Korea and Mobile TV

August 6, 2007 in Wireless Industry News

There’s an excellent article at BusinessWeek (link below) about the evolution of mobile TV from zero to the 7 million viewers today in the country. Bottom line: it isn’t as rosy as it seems.

South Korea pioneered mobile TV, yet there’s still quite a few problems plaguing the technology (known as DMB) – as least on the business side of things.

One of the reasons why mobile TV has taken off running is a good portion of it is FREE. That’s right, free. While SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest cell service provider, does charge $12 a month for 16 channels (+ audio channels) over satellite, the government required several other companies to provide free programming (not over satellite, however).

According to SK Telecom’s mobile TV division (called TU Media), it needs 2.5 million subscribers in order to break even. Right now it’s got 1.2 million, a number that probably won’t be growing by a whole lot since the company has to deal with competition from the free services.

To add to the operators’ (TU Media and the other guys) woes, mobile TV hasn’t exactly attracted billions upon billions of advertising dollars (last year the figure totaled $1.8B) yet. Until the service attracts more customers, it won’t be able to attract more advertisers.

So in other words, mobile TV in Korea’s excellent if you’re a consumer, but pretty lousy if you’re the provider. Not that I’d complain if the service worked this way in the USA.

Source: “South Koreans Want Their M-TV!” – BusinessWeek



Amitabh Kumar
9:06 am

Recognition of a single standard i.e. DVB-H was on the expected lines, but presents an over simplification of the real world. The fact is that the newly developing technologies such as WiMAX make streaming TV available anywhere with a single standard, multicast or unicast.
The problem of Mobile TV has been owing to the handset manufacturers getting seriously involved with standards and not really focusing on multistandard handsets.
The closure of BT Movio and US Modeo are pointers in this direction.
The second problem in has been lack of compelling rich media content.
Amitabh Kumar
(link removed)

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