Mobile TV Seems to be in Trouble

I’ve always struggled with the marriage of Mobile and TV. In the height of the hyperbole and hype back in 2004, I wrote

I tend to favour the TV/video model of short, made-for-mobile clips (say, 5 minutes tops). Or programmes specifically designed to be viewed like that Рmaybe like the typical news/magazine programme today. But TV that hasn’t been reformatted for the mobile viewing experience? And priced as a premium service? Nah…

Which seems to be pretty much what’s played out – so far at least. In fact, the short YouTube style video seems to be a dark horse of growth in mobile right now. Watch this space.

So it comes as no real surprise to me that investors are beginning to pull out, according to this Red Herring article, at least. It’s not just that there’s no real consumer uptake to speak of – 1.2 million worldwide on dedicated networks two years after launch – but that the business case just doesn’t stack up for stand-alone ventures. Whoops.

Naturally, the bulls and incumbents will start to talk about the Trough of Disillusionment in the Hype Cycle and other such stuff. But, I’ll stick with my 2004 stance and say that there’s just no real demand for beaming TV straight to the mobile. In fact, even CBS have recognised that and at the recent MMA conference outlined the features of their dedicated mobile TV channel. Of course, lots of content is shared, but the presentation, time of day shown and newscasters are all completely different. No surprises that mobile needs a dedicated format, just as terrestrial TV did in its day over radio.

I still maintain though, that the real media winner on mobile will be audio – and Podcasts in particular. And on the day the good old BBC announced hundreds of more of their Podcasts are coming to market and in the week that little (but remarkably successful) Aussie outfit The Podcast Network announced that they’d signed up the great John Cleese, no less, it makes Cameron Reilly look really rather visionary and all the VC’s who have turned him down over the last couple of years rather myopic.

And remember, Podcasts haven’t even nearly got going yet and won’t reach their zenith until we can easily upload them to our phones every morning for on-the-move consumption during the day. All we’re really waiting for is more storage on more phones (1 – 3 years) and stand back and watch the boom.

Don’t tell Cam I said that he’s visionary though, it’ll go to his head. He’ll be having enough trouble hanging on to his ego as all those VC’s come back and start courting him.

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