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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 13:44 GMT
Brits show appetite for mobile TV
Man watching TV with bus in background
People preferred to use service at home rather than when on move
Watching TV on mobile phones could be a money-spinner for mobile operators if the results of two trials are anything to go by.

A trial in Oxford, conducted by O2, has found that nearly 80% of people would subscribe to a mobile TV service.

A similar trial from BT has shown that people would pay up to 8 a month for such a service.

O2 was surprised to find that people were using the mobile TV service at home.

According to their results, 36% of people used the service mainly at home, compared to 23% at work or university and 28% while on the move.

The O2 and BT trials used different technologies but drew similar conclusions about the appeal of mobile TV to consumers.

Bespoke content

O2 garnered results from nearly 400 triallists in the Oxford area, each of which had access to 16 TV channels via specially adapted handsets.

O2's mobile TV service
An electronic TV guide appeals to users
The trial was conducted in partnership with broadcasting firm Arqiva.

Interim results showed that 76% would take up services within the next 12 months, with 83% satisfied with the service they received.

According to the results, people were viewing an average of three hours of TV per week, with demand peaking in the morning and evening commutes to and from work.

There was a higher than normal TV viewing pattern at lunchtime as workers used their lunch hour to catch up with news, sport and soaps.

Triallists could choose from 16 channels, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

News, soaps, music and documentaries proved to be the most popular content with a third of triallists indicating that they would be interested in bespoke mobile programming.

The O2 trial, which will continue until the summer, uses so-called DVB-H technology.

DVB-H, which has been adopted by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) as the standard for mobile TV services in Europe, works by beaming a signal to a digital TV receiver, attached to phones.

Unlike TV streaming via 3G, DVB-H does not eat up bandwidth and is a cheaper to roll out nationwide.

The fact that the technology is being taken up across Europe appeals to O2 because it will mean more channels and handsets to choose from.

Stay tuned

In a separate trial, BT tested its BT Movio service, formerly known as BT Livetime.

It offers consumers the opportunity to stay tuned to their favourite programmes, wherever they are, and to watch them in a new, convenient and exciting way
Graeme Hutchinson, Virgin Mobile
It is set for commercial launch later this year and uses the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) network.

Its service could be rolled out almost immediately, in contrast to one using DVB-H which would require considerable investment.

Analysts believe DVB-H is ultimately going to be more appealing because of its Europe-wide endorsement.

BT's service offered video from the likes Sky News, Channel 4, E4, ITV2 and Cartoon Network. Triallists were using the service for an average of more than an hour per week, according to its results.

Its mobile operator partner, Virgin Mobile, sees great potential in mobile TV services.

"It offers consumers the opportunity to stay tuned to their favourite programmes, wherever they are, and to watch them in a new, convenient and exciting way," said Graeme Hutchinson, sales and marketing director of Virgin Mobile.

Analysts are also predicting happy days ahead for mobile TV services.

Technology consultancy Strategy Analytics predicted that mobile firms will have about 50 million users of mobile TV by 2009, generating an estimated 3.5bn in revenue.

A user explains why he likes watching TV on his mobile

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