Monday, November 13, 2006

Respond Mobile launches made-for-mobile TV platform

We all know that, like it or not, online adult "erotic" content and services led to a lot of innovation and take-up of web services more generally. The same, it seems to me, is happening in mobile too. I think it's safe to say that men are more likely to upgrade their handsets and contracts to get adult mobile TV than women would for a QVC mobile shopping style channel or even a reality TV channel. We're just not *that* bothered to upgrade on the whole.

The good thing about adult mobile TV s is that it will accelerate acceptance and use of mobile TV across the board as the handsets and services will be out there which will help the industry as a whole. And let's face it, BT has been making its money for years from adult chatline services to it's a bit late to be anti this now. Like it or not, sex sells.

So as part of this mobile TV innovation, the team at Respond Mobile has launched the world's first dedicated multi-channel mobile TV delivery platform, Rhythm TV. The launch stations include 100% Babes and XXX TV, magazine style Candy Lounge, erotic dancing at Rhythm TV with other big names to be announced soon.

The Rhythm TV service includes some unique features suited to adult mobile TV such as fast forward, rewind and pause. Rhythm TV also allows viewers to restart the channel they were watching at the same place next time they view. The service also plays out in landscape mode on high end phones therefore utilising the full screen area giving and enhanced mobile TV experience. I think these features will be required on *any* mobile TV service, and not just adult.

As I'm not a mobile TV viewer (yet although I don't think it will be long before I am), I don't know how this functionality compares with the likes of Rok, Virgin Lobster, Sky or Vodafone. So if you *do* know, then please feel free to comment.

Mobile TV has great potential because you're not asking the customer to change their fundamental behaviour. If there's a button on the phone that says 'TV' and you press it and you can watch TV, then it's a whole lot easier than browsing wap, uploading/downloading applications, setting up shared messaging services and backing up your data. It's a very simple proposition which we all know and understand. I think it's just a question of timing and we always overestimate the change that will happen in 2 years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10 (with thanks to Bill Gates for the quote).

Update Tues 14 November 2006:
Nokia's just released a report on Mobile TV and its impact on consumers and advertisers which I've written about here.

Update Mon 20 November 2006: Good discussion on the impact of x-series on Mobile TV here.

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:20 pm GMT

    Hi Helen,

    Thanks for the post. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. However here’s what gives me pause. Remember years ago when Sony and Casio where shipping those portable TV’s – you could take them anywhere and see TV… When was the last time you saw someone using one?

    Now fast forward to the present – everything is converging at the speed of light. The PocketPC with Broadband merges “Content with Contact”… the key will be see if people are A) willing to pay for the content (no question with Adult stuff) – and B) sit and watch on a small screen.

    I’m sure some people will sign up – they are already – my questions is simple, is this model sustainable? I don’t know. Might be fun for awhile – but a small screen is not always the greatest viewing platform, for shall we say, “excitable content”.

    The only system I ever tested was Orb… I thought this was actually pretty cool. Install the app on the desktop (mine has a TV card in it) and then you can stream your desktop TV over the web to your mobile phone. I remember I watched CNN for 2 minutes before turning it off. Bandwidth is an issue (this will be solved) however it does eat battery time which means that your ability to use the device as a phone is going to be impacted.

    Cheers,

    Peter

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  2. Peter, I think your comments are valid with regards to mobile TV in general. People don't generally want to watch entire programmes, movies, documentaries and the like on a small, low quality screen whilst on the move.

    Mobile TV is a different format and requires different content to suit the viewing habits - short clips, less filler, getting straight to the point, in a manner that's quickly consumable on-demand.

    Some types of content are perfect for this type of consumption - short, to the point news bulletins (as created specifically for mobile by ITN), goals and concise sports updates, short sketches and jokes... and edited adult video.

    I don't think mobile TV is a gimmick, but I agree that just broadcasting existing TV channels to mobile devices isn't going result in too many people ditching their plasmas in any kind of a hurry. There's still very little content out there that's made for mobile - people and companies are still figuring out what works and what doesn't, in the same way they once did when TV was first launched and TV shows were launched that were basically just radio shows where you could see the performers.

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  3. Hi Helen

    I have just come back from doing a presentation on adult mobile TV at World Telemedia Budapest. I had a point to make there about what I see is the main problem in 3G mobile TV. Here is a synopsis.

    The trouble with 3G phones is that consistently the consumer’s signal is 2G. Networks are not dense enough to guarantee 3G coverage even in high density urban areas. This creates a massive problem for mobile TV. The service will only work when the user has a 3G signal meaning that too often the service is unavailable leading to very poor user experience. This then leads to customers unsubscribing and not returning. As an analyst of mobile TV I consider this to be the biggest problem that operators face in winning the vital early confidence of the mobile TV customer. This problem is highlighted within adult mobile TV. The customer demographic of this content genre are early adopter males and currently 70% of mobile TV consumers are men (source Telephia). If they get a bad experience on adult mobile TV they may never progress to being customers of more broad mobile TV services.

    Mobile operators hope that mobile TV will be a killer application but they will face increasing competition in mobile TV from cable operators creating quad plays and leveraging mobile TV for customer acquisition. The Virgin Mobile launch of free mobile TV being a good early example of mobile TV as a customer acquisition tool for cable lead MVNO’s.

    It is therefore crucial that mobile operators deliver a much better early experience to enable them to retain mobile TV customers. Rok TV with their 2.5G TV service came a close second in a user experience survey of mobile TV (reference URL) beating 3’s MobiTV service. This is because Rok broadcasts at a lower data rate meaning that when the 3G phone roams onto a 2G network the user still has a 12 frames per second TV image. Rather than is so often with 3G TV, no image at all.

    Improving the user experience will drive customer satisfaction resulting in increased customer acquisition, retention and ARPU for the operator and for mobile TV.

    Steve

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