This time of year is a big one for any TV junkies out there—and as a self-confessed TV guru I’m pretty excited. However, this will probably be yet another year when mobile TV just isn’t quite ready for prime time. According to Nielsen the mobile video audience has grown by about 70 percent, but still has a long way to go to reach the masses.
At present, mobile has reached about 15.3 million viewers (or some 30 million eyeballs if you count both eyes), but that’s still only about 7 percent of all U.S. mobile subscribers. Part of the reason according to the experts is that mobile video is still fairly costly and can add somewhere around $5.73 to the monthly bill. While this is down from about $8.32 a year ago, that’s still a lot to pay for a service that isn’t used as regularly as the cable or satellite feed going directly into one’s home.
This leads to my own theory. Nielsen claims that much of the current audience is still being made up by what the service calls “testers,” an interesting spin on the tried and true “early adopter.” As an early adopter for many technologies, mobile TV isn’t something that appeals to me for a number of reasons.
1) News – While I still rely on the national evening news in the winter months (when it is cold and dark outside at 6:30 p.m.), I am only watching for the particular spin from the various networks while watching some human interest pieces. The cable news channels—and to an even greater extent the Internet news sites—have made the days news old news by 6:30 p.m. Why would I possibly rely on news, even if it is packaged especially for a mobile viewer, when it is easier to scan headlines on my smartphone? Basically, there is no reason? For headlines I can scan the handset, and if there is something I really need to see I can turn on the TV when I have a minute. The one way that mobile video news would work is that if it followed the formula of the old CNN Headline news where it really was just about headlines with little added commentary. If you could download the video of top news stories, then video could have an edge over reading. Otherwise, scanning the headlines is still going to be better for serious news junkies.
2) Entertainment – If I have time to enjoy a video for entertainment I have many other delivery means. Watching a TV show is better on the TV and watching social media-styled content is better on the computer. I can’t appreciate a TV show (especially with HDTV) on the third screen, and while YouTube-style videos play well on the second screen, these don’t translate as well on the mobile platform either. The point is that while it can be enjoyable to kill a few minutes watching content for the mobile there are too many hurdles, including download times that just don’t make it worth the trouble. Even mini-episodes are better on a computer, but this could be one way that mobile entertainment would work.