BT Movio prompts Virgin Mobile TV closure

Satdude

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BT Movio prompts Virgin Mobile TV closure

Virgin Mobile's DAB-powered mobile broadcast television service will close early next year after BT Movio—which operated the service on a wholesale basis—this week gave notice to GCap Media to terminate its contract for data capacity on DAB multiplex Digital One, majority controlled by GCap. A BT spokesman told Lovelace Consulting that the telco had taken the decision not to continue with the BT Movio service, and was discussing the timescale for closure with Virgin Mobile.

"While the feedback from users on the service has been complimentary, Movio sales have been slower than originally expected mainly due to a lack of compatible devices from the big brands. This in turn has been caused by the fragmented nature of the mobile TV market and hesitancy on the part of the main network operators as they seek to fill their own largely underutilised 3G networks," said the BT spokesman.

Launched last October, the five-channel BT Movio was the UK's first broadcast television and digital radio service for cellphones. The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 all offered simulcast channels, while the Lobster handsets could also receive dozens of DAB digital radio stations. In 2005 a pilot of the service claimed that just under three quarters of the 1,000 triallists within the M25 area said they would be prepared to pay for a mobile television service on their current network if the service was priced competitively.

A Virgin Mobile spokesman told Lovelace Consulting that 24,000 Lobsters were in the market, and "at the last count 6,000 had licences to use mobile TV". "We have no regrets," said the spokesman. "We are glad we did it. We believe that TV on your phone—whether real, live TV, or on-demand, is inevitable." Virgin Mobile will close the mobile TV service in January, said the spokesman.

Commenting on the demise of BT Movio, Bruce Renny, marketing director at mobile content and technology group ROK Entertainment, said expectations for the commercial uptake of broadcast TV on mobiles as subscription services had been "over-optimistic".

"Why pay a subscription fee to receive the same TV content on your mobile that you already get at home? Particularly when people don't watch TV on mobiles for more than a few minutes at a time. To be commercially successful, you have to provide a combination of live news, sports updates and video-on-demand made-for-mobile content which is instantly engaging," said Renny. "Simply broadcasting linear TV to mobiles is not the answer."

Regards Satdude.
 
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