CTIA IT: FLO TV, MobiTV outline their consumer strategies
Qualcomm’s FLO TV makes its consumer device debut, while MobiTV targets the iPhone with new app business models
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Mobile television has seen slow takeup in the United States, due in part to the monthly subscriptions or carrier limitations inherent in the service. Hoping to reverse this trend, two mobile TV vendors – MobiTV and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) subsidiary FLO TV – are innovating on their overall strategies. MobiTV is concentrating on introducing new business models to iPhone applications, while FLO TV is adding a dedicated device to its direct-to-consumer offering.
In an announcement last night at the CTIA IT & Entertainment conference, Flo TV unveiled its FLO TV Personal Television, a direct-to-consumer device designed solely to support its multicast TV service. It receives both live and time-shifted content with no buffering, downloading or waiting to view content, according to the company. The device, which will be made available this holiday season through retail outlets, is singularly focused on TV viewing on-the-go, putting it in the somewhat unsteady category of fourth-screen devices.
The small 5-ounce FLO TV Personal Television device, built by HTC, comes equipped with a 3.5-inch diagonal screen and battery life of five hours of active viewing or 300 hours standby. According to Qualcomm, a capacitive touch screen makes it easy to navigate and built-in standby and stereo speakers allow it to be set upright and shared with others. The device will retail for $249.99 and comes with a subscription service for $8.99 per month.
President of FLO TV Bill Stone said that the company will also continue to offer the service through its OEM and carrier partners, which include AT&T and Verizon. Qualcomm has been revamping and expanding its distribution strategy since Stone took the helm earlier this year. FLO TV, formerly MediaFLO, is already available on mobile handsets, in-car entertainment systems and now a consumer electronic device.
MOBITV PLAYS WITH BUSINESS MODELS
Subscription mobile TV services have always been mobile TV programmer MobiTV’s bread and butter, and they have served the company well. It now claims more than eight million subscribers across multiple carrier partners, up from just four million last summer. While subscription will continue to big its biggest revenue generator, the company is branching out to make its service – including its business models – much more personal to its subscriber base, according to Jay Hinman, MobiTV’s senior director of product marketing.
“MobiTV has always been more of a cable model, which has been successful for us, but we wanted to move more into personalized, targeted content,” Hinman said, adding that this means adding in more downloads, alerts and relevant statistics.
In the last month, MobiTV has set its sights on Apple’s iPhone, offering the first application in the App Store to include an in-app payment mechanism, a UFC app, as well as a seasonal $6.99 Notre Dame football app. After seeing the tremendous feedback from CBS Sport’s March Madness iPhone app, the company has realized the value of one-off apps, Hinman said. Since content partner NBC owns the exclusive rights to broadcasting Notre Dame football games, it decided to use the TV service to build an interactive, video-based app that it can continuously update with new information and push notifications. The app also includes a built-in back-up system for when AT&T’s network proves unreliable. For example, if video of a game is being streamed as AT&T slips onto its EDGE network, just the audio sans video will continue to play.
MobiTV also introduced a MarketNow TV app to the iPhone, a service similar to its Mobi4Biz available on the BlackBerry Bold. It is being offered as a subscription service on the iPhone. But, MobiTV’s most exciting iPhone app, Hinman said, is its new UFC app. Ultimate fighting has risen to be one of the most popular sports in the US, but it is exciting to MobiTV because it is the iPhone’s first app that includes the ability to purchase fights on a pay-per-view model for $44.95, the same as they cost on TV, after purchasing the 99 cent app, which is interesting in its own right. Hinman said MobiTV will continue to explore subscription services, but BlackBerry, Android and others still don’t allow this method of payment in their app stores. In the meantime, the company is setting its sights on innovating for the iPhone with a multitude of business models built around personalization.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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