Interim results from a user trial of multi-channel broadcast TV to mobile handsets have revealed a high level of consumer interest in a commercial Mobile Broadcasting service in the UK. The first phase results from the Oxford Mobile TV trial, a partnership between O2 and Arqiva, which offers 24 hour, live access to 16 TV channels, show that 83% of triallists are satisfied with the end-to-end service provided. In addition, 76% of triallists indicate that they would take up the service within 12 months.
Highlights from the trial to date include indications that the 375 triallists, all O2 customers representing a wide range of demographics, are choosing to access TV on their mobiles for an average of 23 minutes per session, with 1 to 2 sessions per day. Overall, triallists are viewing for around an average of 3 hours per week, with one group of enthusiasts viewing over 5 hours per week. Demand is high in the morning and in the early evening, with viewers using the service mainly in the home, at work and on the daily commute. For 31%1 of triallists, the trial has given them their first access to multi-channel TV not currently available to them on their normal TV - heralding mobile broadcast's role in bringing digital TV services to the mass market in the UK.
Interestingly, the results also demonstrate a lunchtime viewing peak higher than the normal TV pattern, suggesting that viewers are enjoying news, sports and their favourite daytime soaps while on their lunch break.
The strong channel line-up on offer in the Oxford Mobile TV trial, which includes a selection of terrestrial channels from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, coupled with programming from Sky, MTV and other content providers, has proven to be a key factor in the high satisfaction levels. Ease of use and high picture and sound quality were additional factors.
As well as having the choice of 16 channels, viewers benefit from a wide selection of content genres suitable for viewing on their mobile handset. The most popular being: news, soaps, music, documentaries and sports. 33% of triallists also indicated that they are looking for some made for mobile programming, and even some long-form content (e.g. movies) is proving suitable for watching on mobile handsets.
Demand for additional multi-media services is high including digital radio, interactive services and 'live' links to channel web-sites. 7 out of 10 triallists would like to have digital radio channels included in a commercial service.
Dave Williams, O2's chief technology officer, said: "This trial is further illustration that we are moving from a verbal only to a verbal and visual world in mobile communications, and we are encouraged to see the trial results confirm this. We already see a powerful trend amongst O2 customers to use a wide range of visual services such as video downloads and streaming, interactive games, various messaging services with live or streamed video, music including radio and a whole host of web portal services.
"Broadcast TV for mobile can be a powerful new service that further enables users to personalise their mobile handset so that they can always have the content they want. We call this trend 'Personal TV' and the addition of TV content digitally broadcast straight to your mobile is a huge part of that vision."
Dr. Hyacinth Nwana, Arqiva's managing director, Mobile Media Solutions, added: "The Oxford Mobile TV trial has proved there is a market for mobile broadcasting and now we're looking to make it happen with the collaboration of the whole industry. The trial is proving that mobile multi-channel broadcasting, including TV and Radio, is mass market in addition to meeting consumer demand for content and choice of programmes. We have also demonstrably proven scalability, even if we have to deliver to millions of handsets simultaneously."
O2 and Arqiva expect to announce final results from the Oxford Mobile TV trial in the spring of 2006.
More about the Arqiva/O2 Oxford Mobile TV Trial:
* Trial commenced 29 September 2005.
* TV channels available in the trial:
BBC ONE, BBC TWO, BBC News 24, ITV 1, ITV 2, Channel 4, Five, British Eurosport, Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery Channel, MTV, Shorts TV, Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Travel.
* The technology:
The service is based on the new DVB-H (digital video broadcasting - handheld) transmission technology and works by beaming a signal to a digital TV receiver, which is attached to Nokia's specially adapted 7710 smartphone, transforming it into a portable TV. DVB-H is ideally suited to sending good-quality, reliable digital TV pictures from a single source to multiple users in a way that complements the one-to-one video streaming which is already possible via today's GPRS and 3G mobile data networks.
* The triallists:
- 375 users taking part - delivering a representative sample of UK population
- Aged between 18-44, predominantly spending most of their time in Oxford i.e. live, work or study
- Even mix of O2 contract and prepay customers
- Good spread of triallists whose normal TV is analogue, Freeview, cable or satellite