The World Cup will be a testing time for mobile TV
The World Cup will be a testing ground for TV on mobile phones, says a report.
The football tournament will give phone owners a taste of what the technology promises and let operators work out how their networks will handle demand.
The report by analysts Informa predicts that more than 210 million people will be watching TV on their mobile by 2011.
By that date, the technology behind mobile TV should have settled down and handsets that can handle the shows will be widely available.
Mobile phone operators across the world are planning to use the World Cup as a way to get customers more interested in watching TV on their mobile phones, says the report from Informa Telecoms and Media.
The report predicts that up to $300m (£160m) in revenue will come from fans downloading and watching clips on mobile phones.
Dave McQueen, principal analyst at Informa and one of the authors of the report, said 2006 will see mobile TV begin to take off.
As well as clips of matches, so-called "mobisodes" of shows such as Coronation Street and 24 are being prepared for watching on phones. Pop bands such as the Sugababes are also preparing material just for fans' handsets.
But, said Mr McQueen, the technology pumping programmes to phones needs to be stabilised for the technology to support large audiences.
His comments were echoed by Robin Kelly, spokesman for T-Mobile, which is planning to offer subscribers a package of highlights after World Cup matches.
"We expect that to be pretty popular," he said.
"But it's not a mass market product yet. I don't think anyone would say it was."
This was because, he said, the clips will be streamed to people across the network and there could cause "bandwidth issues" if too many people subscribed.
Many operators are planning to use the World Cup to show off mobile TV. For instance in the UK 3 has set up three mobile TV channels that will be free to customers and will show match highlights, the best action of the day and a magazine show created just for phones.
Data from South Korea, where mobile TV has been on offer since May 2005, showed there was a real appetite for it, said Mr McQueen from Informa.
Many Koreans were now watching up to 90 minutes of TV on their mobiles every day, said Mr McQueen. By contrast participants in UK trials of mobile TV were watching 180 minutes per week.
Pop band Sugababes are creating mobisodes
By the Olympics in 2008 and next World Cup in 2010, mobile TV technology will be well established, said Mr McQueen.
He predicted that 10% of handsets in 2010 will be able to handle broadcast mobile TV signals. Battery life will also have improved to the point where watching for a few hours does not completely drain a phone.
"TV is a medium that everyone understands, and so is mobile," said Mr McQueen
"Combining the two in the imagination of consumers is not as great a challenge as it is for other forms of mobile entertainment."