Mobile TV Subscribers to Shoot Up, but Operators’ Revenue Not so Much

December 3, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Europe & Middle East | Telecom | Television

The mobile TV market will be worth over €4.4 billion (nearly $6.5 billion) in 2011 in Asia, North America and Western Europe combined, and subscription business models will dominate the market, generating more than 90% of revenues in 2011, according to a Screen Digest forecast.

The report, “Mobile TV: Business Models and Opportunities,” examines the market for mobile TV in 25 countries, including the US and in Europe and Asia, and offers two perspectives on the market: the TV industry’s and the mobile content industry’s.

Of the two delivery methods for mobile TV – broadcast and unicast – the former is expected to experience rapid growth, with the number of markets offering broadcast service tripling in the next two years and reaching 18 by the end of 2008.

Among the forecasts and findings:


  • Screen Digest predicts significant growth in subscriber numbers globally, with 140 million subscribers and revenues of €4.4 billion by 2011.
  • North America will experience the biggest increase, growing its subscriber base 20-fold to 28.8 million, and revenues as much as 50-fold to €1.8 billion by 2011.
  • However, subscriber numbers do not equate to revenue; despite its large subscriber numbers and longevity of mobile TV services, the Asian market will generate less revenue than Europe and the US by 2011.
  • Europe will lead in global revenue share with 42.5%, followed by the US at 40.5% and Asia accounting for the remaining 17.0%.
  • At present, there are more than 15 million subscribers of mobile TV in Asia, where the majority of broadcast networks are offered free-to-air.
  • Italy has 850,000 paying subscribers, and France has more than half a million subscribers to unicast services.
  • Mobile TV will generate more revenues than mobile music and mobile games combined
  • In Europe, mobile TV will represent 27% of total pay TV subscriptions.

While mobile TV will attract more and more viewers in the immediate term, significant revenues for mobile operators, broadcasters and content owners won’t be enjoyed until 2011, according to Ronan de Renesse, author of the report.

“The free-to-air services are the success stories for subscriber uptake, yet business models for mobile pay-TV are still to be proven. Content owners and handset manufacturers can gain in the short term with incremental revenues through a different distribution channel or by selling more expensive handsets,” he said.

“While mobile TV may not generate significant revenues for operators over the next four years, bundling to move subscribers to contract will. The operators not investing now in mobile TV risk losing out when the subscriber base finally becomes established enough to generate revenues through pay-TV models and advertising.”

Operators that do not offer mobile TV in the short term, despite not much profit, will simply lose their subscribers to other operators or other media devices, such as in-car devices popular in Asia, according to Screen Digest..

The lion’s share of the income from offering mobile TV services will be shared among handset manufacturers, software companies, content creators and network owners, the analyst firm said

However, the experience of Italy offers mobile network operators an opportunity, according to Screen Digest: That is, upgrade pay-as-you-go customers to contracts in order to access the rich content, and by doing so enjoy as much as three times the revenue per unit, without increasing the already-saturated subscriber base.

About the research: The data are taken from Screen Digest’s latest report, Mobile TV: Business Models and Opportunities. The report includes analysis of the current market situation, business models and value chain, as well as analysis of the delivery mechanisms, broadcast technology and the impact of regulation. 25 countries are reviewed in the report at local and regional level, and 11 company profiles are included.

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