At the 2004 Greek Olympic games, Israel won its first Olympic gold medal. Ever. It was awarded to Gal Friedman in the Mistral windsurfing competition. My CEO, Boaz Raviv, told me how during that year he watched the decisive race in that competition live on his mobile phone at one of the many coffee shops surrounding our office.
That was 4 years ago, at a time when mobile video telephony, the service he used for this purpose, was only starting to gain ground, and RADVISION was one of the pioneers in that domain with its 3G Gateway. Fast forward four years later, and it seems mobile video is entering the mainstream following the Beijing Olympics.
NBC, the US TV network, was not crowned the winner in the Olympic games – that was Yahoo. But they did serve through multiple channels AND were kind enough to release daily statistics about the exposure of the Olympic Games and the views they had. They split the numbers into 4 media types: VOD, Mobile, Online and TV.
You can say that these 4 represent the following domains:
- TV – the “old” world
- VOD – IPTV related services (in this case, time shifting)
- Mobile – 3G
- Online – Internet TV, which is somewhat different than IPTV
As expected, the numbers show a huge success for the “classic” TV medium, and strong success for the Internet TV, with over 7 million visitors a day for their website – they could have done better though.
Total views during the Olympic games (logarithmic scale) (http://www.nbcumv.com/)
The interesting area is IPTV versus Mobile views. Mobile was utilized more than VOD during the Olympics – counter intuitively to the dismal results recently published in Korea, Germany and Japan, where viewership was minimal at best.
The difference now is this was a spectacle not to be missed – the Olympic Games. Something people care about. Something pushed hard by NBC’s marketing. Something that the entire world is focusing its eyes on. Something that is a must-see live.
The question is:
Is this sustainable?
Will this make people feel comfortable with mobile TV?
Does this mean operators need to find other types of content and usage models to fit mobile TV other than regurgitating content from traditional TV on mobile handsets?
Juniper Research certainly thinks mobile TV will grow, generating revenue of more than
$6.6 billion by 2012. If I had to bet, I’d say most of it will be generated during the London Olympics itself in 2012.
I think operators need to think long and hard about the type of content that might succeed for Mobile TV. It will probably be different than what we’re used to today on TV, and there needs to be a factor of immediacy related to the content, to incentivize people to consume it on the spot on their mobile phones, otherwise, we will be back to crummy usage values.