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Round Table on «What Content for Mobile Television?»


- Bruno Bucher, Jean-Emmanuel Casalta, and Jacob Møllerour, specialists from the mobile industry, discussed contents for mobile TV at Cartoon Master (Digital) 2008. The discussion covered the current movement in the European mobile content business, including mobile technologies, economic challenges, and future scope for producers.

Bruno Bucher, Mobile TV Schweiz
Jean-Emmanuel, Casalta NPA Conseil
Jacob Møller, Kiloo
Moderator: Christian Davin

Christian Davin: Bruno Bucher, can you explain what mobile television is?
Bruno Bucher: Mobile TV is not watching TV far away from the sofa, it’s rather watching close up. The telecom industry does not understand mobile TV as I do. For the telecommunication operators, mobile TV is bringing the same TV on the mobile.
Until now the technology used to watch TV was UMTS which allows you to watch normal TV on the mobile. The new technology is called DVB-H. It is a digital video broadcast signal spread out to a TV signal. It’s a communication tool and interactive. We can make new services for customers: shopping, downloading, action. People are not sitting on a sofa.
We have two technologies. UMTS is unicast and DVB-H is broadcast: I spread out the same information from one point to many people. Mobile technology is a limitation of resources: there is a limitation in frequencies. The band does not allow the signal to be delivered to millions of people. We started with early adopters. They are willing to pay for things that others don’t have. We are ready to pay for content licences.
In Switzerland, the consumer pays Swiss Telecom a subscription to receive 10 channels. My channel is one of them. I do not receive money from the subscription, but from the advertising I add to my programmes. In future, I will also be able to have income thanks to downloads.

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Christian Davin: Will the quality of images and sound improve?
Bruno Bucher: Yes, without any doubt. What we can see is absolutely exciting. Swiss Telecom launched an offer mid-May 2008 and the quality was absolutely astonishing.

Christian Davin: Are you delivering UGC (User Generated Content)?
Bruno Bucher: Yes, but you must have good quality User Generated Content. We are currently looking for 250 people in Switzerland to produce quality content, like local journalists covering an event or a concert. We would like to introduce interactivity in a real life situation. We invited young people to come to find a treasure in town. All these people had a camera and they made live pictures that enabled us to create a TV show.

Christian Davin: We talk of TV bundles, of continuous broadcasting, becoming available on mobile phones. In France, there are 60 million mobile phones in use, but there are only a small number of users who can receive this offer. This being so, the offer will still be proposed and the manufacturers are already designing new models that they upgrade quite regularly. We will see models capable of receiving this television increase in number.

Jacob Møller: We distribute video based content which differs from mobile TV because it is based on a pay-per-download model. People are selective about it. You have to navigate through the menus and download a particular content. You have to . be interactive.

Christian Davin: Today, Japan and Korea are the most advanced in terms of mobile telephony. In Japan, there are nearly 9 million subscribers to mobile television. In Korea, there are about 6 million. In Italy, in the last year, there has been an offer that has attracted some 600,000 people. Tests are being carried out with 9,000 subscribers in Germany, Finland and the United Kingdom. What is the situation in France?

Jean-Emmanuel Casalta: The situation in Europe is very varied. What we have noticed is that there are people who watch television on the mobile phone. Whatever the specific conditions of the Korean or Japanese markets, the fact is that there are consumers who pay every month to watch television on their mobile phone. For producers of programme content, this is a potentially very interesting market.
In France, tests were made that showed consumers spend approximately 20 minutes per day watching television on their mobile phone, which is a significant amount of time. This amount increases for consumers who commute using public transport. 20% of usage takes place between 9 and 10 am, 25% between 12 and 2 pm during lunch break, and 35% in the evening. Mobile television is obviously considered another media, which adds to the TV screens already present in people’s homes.
A recent study carried out by NPA Conseil allows us to foresee the likely number of users at the end of 2012 being between 5.7 and 8.5 million depending on the various scenarios. To reach these figures, there are two conditions that need to be met. First, there must be a wide territorial coverage and the operators must invest massively to install relays so that at least 30% of the territory is covered by the mobile television signal. Second, advertising could be problematic. It will be necessary to estimate the monetary worth of the users. There is one element that is very important: measuring audience on these new media. Everyone needs to agree as to the systems for measuring audience rates.

Christian Davin: Will mobile television allow television channels to extend their offer and help them survive in the highly competitive world of Internet? Could this be an opportunity for operators like Orange to enter the television market?
Jean-Emmanuel Casalta: There is a process underway that makes it inevitable that audiences will become fragmented. In France, we had an extraordinary situation with a dominant media holding 30% of the audience rate. For some months now, television is losing ground. The fragmentation of the audiences has a number of causes. First, television no longer has the monopoly for the distribution of images: there is Internet, VOD, electronic content. Other ways to access images for example are by mobile television. In one day, which will continue to last 24 hours, it will be necessary to divide our time, depending on our geographical situation, on our desires and on what the different media will have to offer us, according to the type of use that is possible at any given moment.
It is imperative for the large television groups to be present on all the media and all the access modes to images. Mobile television has the same criteria as Catch-up TV: televisions need to re-incorporate the audience around their programmes, while the fragmentation of the main media is inevitable. Each time we launch a new media, there are possibilities for newcomers to disturb the game of the ensconced media. We noticed this phenomenon at the time of the launch of TNT. And this is what we will see with personal mobile television.

Christian Davin: What are the prospects for producers?
Jean-Emmanuel Casalta: We are dealing with extremely fragile economic models. There will be quite an important trial period. First of all, it will be necessary to offer programmes that «deserve» to be paid for viewing. There will not be enough means to massively produce exclusive content for the new media. Audiovisual and animation producers, who supply the large television stations, are not going to start massively producing for mobile television, which doesn’t allow for the correct financing of programmes. So as not to disrupt their current financing mode, it is likely that producers will re-use the programmes they produce for regular television and will adapt them for mobile television at a low cost.
To start with, the content on offer for mobile television will be revamped existing content, with an investment in editing in order to find shorter formats. We believe that short formats will be the most used on this type of media. Animation programmes have an advantage compared to audiovisual products in general, thanks to their considerably longer shelf life.

Christian Davin: Will the economic model be free or paid for?
Jean-Emmanuel Casalta: I believe that it will be paid for because we are in the world of telephony. In the world of Internet, it is very difficult to receive paid subscriptions. The large majority of content available on Internet is free or paid for by others. Concerning mobile television, we are in a universe that is paid for. It is not conceivable to have a free subscription.
Also, it will be necessary to produce content for this new media. Income will be generated by including the subscription, advertising and associated services (sales of programmes).
There are considerable costs: broadcasting, technological, rights, …

Cartoon Master Murcia, Spain, April 2008

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