Mobile Video: Chicken or the Egg?
Sprint announced that it is trialing MediaFLO's technology for a broadcast TV service that it is calling Vue. Verizon plans to launch the service in Q1 2007. Many have questioned the need for a broadcast video/audio network when consumer adoption is as low as it is today. It's sounds cliché, but they can't succeed if they don't try. Today's networks only have the capacity to stream video simultaneously to a handful of subscribers at any one time. Certainly, not everyone will want to watch at the same time (ok, unless there is breaking news), but they can't ramp up adoption without the capacity to deliver a great experience. Broadcast provides this capability.
I think one of the big open questions is what video content will subscribers want on their handset? Our surveys show that live, streaming TV is at the top of the list (which broadcast would provide), but there are a lot of close seconds. As more consumers watch time-shifted TV, will their concept of what they consider to be live TV really be a video-on-demand model? Will consumers take a TV- or Internet video mindset with them to the phone? Yes, it will probably be both CNN and YouTube, but which will be the bigger hit? Will user-generated video flow to consumers over the regular cellular network? or will it get access to broadcast networks? Programming for a mobile broadcast network could be tricky until some paradigms for consuming video on a portable device like a cell phone develop.