Half Billion Mobile TV Subscribers By 2013 Expected

Expansion areas should include cell phones, in-car systems, and mobile Internet devices, according to ABI Research.

While companies like AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless have spent billions to build mobile television services, the adoption rate has been paltry. But a new study from ABI Research said more than half a billion users will be watching TV on the go by 2013, and not all of them will be using a cell phone.

The report, titled "The Mobile TV Market," found that the increase in viewership will benefit content providers, device manufacturers, and network infrastructure vendors. But the service won't gain traction until there's a clearly defined value proposition, ABI said.

"Mobile TV users have yet to value the medium properly because it has not been validated as an independent product and service," senior analyst Jeff Orr said in a statement. "It has been primarily offered at the end of a long list of more preferred cellular services. However, mobile TV will soon be positioned in a more proper role as an extension of traditional broadcast TV services."

Orr said cell phone users won't be the only ones watching mobile TV, as mobile Internet devices and in-car entertainment systems will be natural fits for this kind of service.

"I believe that once the content is available and the services launched, mobile TV will enable more classes of mobile devices that are 'natural fits' for mobile entertainment," Orr said.

Mobile TV should get a major push later this year as a coalition of broadcasters has agreed to a mobile TV standard for providing free, over-the-air programming in 22 U.S. cities. There are no devices on the market that are capable of playing this standard, but the Open Mobile Video Coalition said this move will spur consumer electronics manufacturers to create devices that can take advantage of it.

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