Compelling content the key for mobile TV adoption

MUMBAI: Mobile TV will succeed if the content on offer is compelling. Also one or two channels will not suffice. An operator should give around 20 channels. It should also be easy for the consumer to switch from one channel to another.

This was the message delivered by Qualcomm president India and SAARC Kanwalinder Singh. As an example, he noted that if certain geography requires about 30,000-40,000 base station for wireless coverage, the same region can be served by about 400 MediaFLO towers to deliver mobile TV service.

If the bandwidth is not enough then the picture is jerky and consumers will be put off. The key to successful mobile television is to do interactivity with the broadcast. MediaFLO is an end to end system that allows this. Mobile television is one to one interaction unlike television which is one to many.

Qualcomm bought spectrum in the US and is now in a deal with Verizon to launch a mobile TV service next year in the US. He noted that MediaFLO has a Conditional Access System which allows only those phones who have paid for the content to access it. When desired, the operator can still have free to air content.

The basic challenge is to have the maximum number of channels possible with relatively limited spectrum. Power consumption by the mobile phone should also be low.

Mobile television also offers unique commerce opportunities. For instance secondary generation opportunities exist when a music video is playing. One can offer a ringtone, the music album of that artist to the user to buy on the spot. He added that Qualcomm is keen on doing a trial project with mobile operators in India.

Another session looked at the business of retail and home entertainment. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment country manager N. Muthuram noted that there is a 60 per cent DVD penetration in TV homes in India. The DVD has features like subtitles, language options which has energised the market.

"It is a catalogue driven business. Classic titles like Sholaty perform well contrary to perception in some quarters that one the new titles sell. In the US home videos earn thrice as much as theatrical releases. In fact Sony Pictures has a deal with Steven Seagal and Wesley snipes for direct to video films. It is also a positive sign that window of release for videos is falling."

He noted the importance of retail in the home video market in the US. Walmart contributes 50 per cent to the home video business. He noted that increasingly companies across the globe tie up for home video releases. An example is in Mexico. There Act II Popcorn did a deal for the home video release of Spiderman.

The aim was to once again generate excitement for Spiderman when the sequel was being released theatrically. Act II found relevance with the product and 42,000 units were sold. In Italy a pizza company has an association with DVD releases. Basically a DVD comes with a pizza. They also do a DVD choice of the month initiative. The message is that the consumer can enjoy the pizza while watching a film. This gives the home entertainment firm an avenue that would have exited earlier. The retail firm meanwhile gets an extra hook for its product.

In Germany a tie up was done for Terminator 3 between Sony, Sony Electronics and Hatari which had developed a game based on the game. The good thing was that it was a combined promotional effort. There was TVC pushing all the three firms. When consumers bought a product there would be leaflet inside telling them about the other two products. In India the key challenge is to educate brand marketers about the possibilities in this arena.

Saregama VP and head - films Sweta Agnihotri gave more examples of how synergies work between DVDs and brands. Motrorola for instance made a phone on Spongebob. Samsung had done a tie up for the Matrix which was all about having information. Kelloggs regularly does stuff with Disney. Mitsubishi did a promotion for 2 Fast 2 Furious where they had kits distributed in their dealership outlets. All this allows a brand to be associated with famous stars for a relatively less cost. In India Saregama had done a Barbie called Hope has Wings for a brand. The song played on music channels. There was also a tie up with micro processor solution firm AMD for the DVD release of Madagascar.

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