|It’s prime-time for mobile TV
|President and Managing Director
Jeremy Pink is President and Managing Director of CNBC in Asia-Pacific. Most recently, Mr Pink was Vice President, International News and Programming based in the US, where he worked across each international network – CNBC in the US, Europe, Asia-Pacific and CNBC World in the US – to identify global programming and content opportunities. He spearheaded the Worldwide Exchange, the global business news programme, simultaneously broadcast out of the US, Europe and Asia. Prior to that, he was with CNBC in Europe, where he was Vice President of News and Programming, directing the network’s content and coverage and long-range programming. Prior to CNBC in Europe, Mr Pink held positions at CNBC in Asia-Pacific, Worldly Information Network and at CNN’s New York and Atlanta offices. Mr Pink holds an MBA from Duke University and is a contributing author of “The Routledge Critical Dictionary of Global Economics” (1999) and “E-Finance Report” (2001).
Mobile TV is set to become an important new consumer service and an important source of revenues for mobile operators. Content will be the key to its growth. Given the small-screen and on-the-run viewing, content from other platforms will not serve; tailored-for-mobile content will be called for. Since made-for-mobile content is expensive, if it is to be successful, a new business model, where both content producers and operators share the costs and revenues alike, will be needed.
Communications services are growing in importance for consumers. As mobile phone usage increases, these services command a greater share of household expenditure. People are spending more to buy new and additional mobile services. So, there is ample opportunity for broadcasters, content providers and mobile platform operators to grow. Content is the key to enabling mobile platforms to take off. Content must not only be compelling, but must be created exclusively for mobile TV, to suit the different viewing habits of the people on the go. Although there are significant challenges at present, I think that we can overcome these challenges in time. However, it is imperative that content providers and mobile operators foster closer working relationships, to maximize the profitability of this new platform. In the past few years, total revenues for the mobile telecoms industry have increased significantly, and consumer usage of mobile has also increased, due to price reductions and emergence of new services. The opportunities to distribute broadcast content via the mobile phone are significant, especially so here, in Asia-Pacific. People in the Asia-Pacific region are fast paced, and are constantly on the go. They are prime target audience for mobile TV. In recognition of this, sophisticated 3G networks have been rolled out, and more 3G handset innovations are constantly produced to accommodate the receiving and viewing of broadcast content. Specific mobile TV billing infrastructure has also been put in place in many markets. This is especially so in China, where the anticipated growth of mobile TV is projected to be significant. So, the drive to profit from this opportunity is present – the question is, are consumers ready? I think that content is key. If the content is right, then yes, people will consume it. Content providers must create a consumer experience that the consumers cannot do without. In order to do so, the content produced has to be compelling, varied and available exclusively on mobile TV platforms. Content that holds an audience’s interest, that people can comfortably watch whilst on the go, will both generate revenue and help spread the mobile concept more widely. With the right cost model, content providers have a profitable route to a huge untapped market. Moreover, if the mix of pricing and programming is right, it will only be a matter of time before prime time TV content producers look to enter the market. The entry of the prime time content producers will drive higher rates of mobile TV viewing. Mobile TV gives content providers and media organizations access to an entirely new communications channel, an entirely new market. Firstly, mobile TV reaches audiences on the go, who would otherwise not be able to access the content – at least while on the move. Secondly, through the creative production of content, mobile TV will drive more audiences to traditional TV platforms, and vice versa. In other words, I think that mobile TV complements the traditional mode of accessing content, thus significantly expanding our audience base. Don’t get me wrong. Although I see plenty of opportunities for mobile TV in Asia-Pacific, I think that there are significant challenges for us to overcome. Firstly, we are currently seeing that many subscribers are reluctant to take up 3G services. However, mobile TV is a relatively new concept here, and as time goes on, and as the new content production becomes popular, I think that we shall see less hesitation on the part of consumers to subscribe to both the technology and the content. Resolving the competition between mobile phone content access via the Internet, versus 3G technology-based mobile content access is another challenge. Which way will the consumers access their content? If content providers are able to produce specific content for each specific platform, then there will be no competition. However, producing specific content for specific platforms is an expensive endeavour, and I think that the mobile operators and the content providers should look at working closely together to minimise cost structure, and maximise profitability. One of the ways that we can look at is by jointly investing in producing the exclusive content specifically for 3G platforms, as well as packaging and promoting the content to subscribers. The sector is also challenged by the current lack of agreement between mobile operator and content providers regarding a wide variety of content licensing issues. I think that if mobile operators and content providers establish closer working relationships, then there will be better and more open communications, which will foster better understanding between the two parties. So, I think that it is extremely important that content providers work closely in partnership with the mobile operators, in getting the business model off the ground. Both parties should consider venturing into revenue sharing partnership. Although it is a different business model, I think that this would result in the production of content that would drive more viewer subscription to 3G platforms, which will be the most beneficial to both the content providers and the mobile operators. Indeed, if content providers and mobile operators embrace the opportunities presented by mobile TV, and if the industry players are able to overcome the challenges that are currently presented, I think that we will create another revolutionary and popular mode of broadcasting content to our target audience, which we will not be able to access otherwise.