State of the Union shows power of a-la-carte mobile TV

MobiTV ObamaPresident Obama’s State of the Union address, which drew in 48 million total viewers, paints a compelling picture of the power of mobile TV for one-off live events.

Mobile TV viewing application MobiTV saw a 1,544% increase in minutes viewed on its news channels that aired the speech on Wednesday. The channels, ABC News Now, FOX News and MSNBC, also saw the minutes per viewer increase three-fold. MobiTV, which counts eight million mobile phones users in its subscriber base, sees a jump like this any time it airs a live event, especially one related to sports or politics.

The White House also had its own live stream of the speech that was embedded on blogsand Web sites. The stream, from WhiteHouse.gov, pulled in nearly 1.3 million viewers, a 10-fold increase in traffic over the most popular live-streamed event. Many of these viewers came from the White House’s iPhone app as well. It didn’t release data on the number of unique streams, but said that nearly a terabyte of data was served to iPhones with the app during the event.

MobiTV offers its channel line-up as a subscription service through carrier partners and direct to consumers, but the success of one-time viewing events like the State of the Union, coupled with the relative lack of success the mobile TV industry has seen thus far, suggest a pay-per-viewmodel might make the most sense for mobile TV.

In an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show, which saw a lot of action on the mobile TV front, Altman Vilandrie & Company director Jonathon Hurd suggestedan alternative model for mobile TV pricing – one that is a la carte, not reliant on subscriptions. Events like the State of the Union or Super Bowl show that consumers are interested in live mobile TV; they just aren’t interested in the monthly price tag that comes along with it. Hurd also said that subscription should be an option, but it should be tied to a telco’s regular pay TV service. This, alongside a la carte capabilities, would likely be an easy upsell that creates an additional revenue stream for quad-play providers, who – let’s face it – are eager for extra revenue. For mobile TV, it might be the way to evolve it from a niche play to a mainstream service.

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