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Streaming Content: Mobile TV market gains traction

December 20, 2013
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With the voice market reaching saturation point, a large number of service providers are focusing on mobile-based value-added services (MVAS) for generating incremental revenues. As per a recent report published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB, the Indian MVAS market is expected to reach Rs 299 billion by end-2013. The key driver of the MVAS market will be the increasing adoption of mobile internet in India.

Within the MVAS segment, mobile TV is poised for significant growth. India is well positioned to shift to mobile TV as it is the third largest TV household market globally and has the world’s second largest telecom subscriber base.

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) was the first operator to launch mobile TV services in the country. It introduced its 3G-driven mobile TV services in association with Aksh Optifibre Limited. The MTNL 3G TV provided IPTV feed for mobile TV on the operator’s 3G service while the content was provided by Apalya Technology. Following this, players such as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Idea Cellular, Vodafone India and TATA DOCOMO entered the market.

Currently, operators are offering a range of content. According to IAMAI, mobile entertainment is the most popular mobile TV service. The majority of mobile TV users prefer watching video content, live TV shows and events and music-on-demand. In 2012, live events and sports accounted for a large share of the download content for mobile TV applications. Live streaming of events such as the Kumbh Mela, Ramlila and Durga Puja festivities along with cricket were the most watched events on mobile screens. The ICC T20 Word Cup in 2012 drew 20 million viewers to nexGTv, while 500,000 people watched the Kumbh Mela 2013 through this channel. Riding on the rich media content provided by leading broadcasters, particularly general entertainment channels, the mobile TV industry is increasingly becoming an application-driven industry. In India, mobile TV applications have witnessed seven times higher viewership than websites. Capitalising on this trend, leading broadcasters have launched applications for a few of their popular programmes. For example, the Big Boss application created by Colors for the show’s sixth season was downloaded at least half a million times. Another application created around the channel’s popular show, Comedy Nights with Kapil, registered 100,000 views within the first week of launch. The growing popularity of such content indicates that mobile TV viewers prefer short-form content and watch shows that they missed on the TV.

Going forward, the consumption of content on-the-go is expected to grow significantly, thereby driving growth in the mobile TV segment. According to research firm Avendus, India has more than 160 million internet users, of which 86 million access it through mobile devices. The country has 36 million smartphone users and mobile devices account for 9 per cent of overall internet page views in India. Further, over 40 per cent of searches on Google originate from mobile devices and 30 per cent of Facebook users in India are mobile-only internet users. The increasing penetration of mobile internet augurs well for the adoption of mobile TV services.

In addition, the growing uptake of smartphones in India will drive the uptake of mobile TV services. As per estimates, smartphone shipments in India grew by 229 per cent year-on-year from 3.8 million at the end of the third quarter of 2012 to 12.8 million in the corresponding period in 2013. Smartphones are becoming mass market products with both international as well as Indian mobile manufacturers offering users feature-rich smartphones at affordable prices. Besides, the roll-out of 3G and 4G networks offering higher connectivity speeds is driving the growth of mobile TV services. In the past, service uptake was restricted by the lack of bandwidth availability on GPRS and EDGE networks. However, the higher data speeds offered by 3G and 4G networks have led to significant improvements in the viewing experience.

The mobile TV market has been dominated by operators that have been using their networks as the vehicle for providing paid content to subscribers. Service providers are offering mobile TV users various tariff plans. Subscribers can opt for daily, weekly or monthly packages to access mobile TV services on their handsets. Mobile TV services in the country are priced between Rs 10 per day to Rs 250 per month and above. However, with growing opportunities in the segment, a new set of players is looking to bypass the operator-based model. Earlier, mobile TV service providers partnered with operators for offering MVAS services. The business model entailed sharing subscription revenues with operators and content providers. A few players also bundled their applications with mobile handsets. However, a large number of players are now looking at over-the-top (OTT) delivery of content to users through web browsers. Broadcasters such as ZEE TV have taken the lead in adopting the OTT model. Zee TV’s mobile TV service, Ditto TV, offers content through its own platform and allows users to pay their operators data tariff for accessing content. In fact, Zee TV is open to sharing its platform with other broadcasters. This would offer the company additional revenues by hosting the content created by its competitors. A few players also bundle their applications with new-generation handsets. For example, Zenga offers free mobile TV services. The company earns revenues by partnering with the original equipment manufacturers and embedding its applications in the handsets.

The Indian mobile TV market is still at a nascent stage. Despite the roll-out of 3G and 4G networks, low bandwidth availability is hindering the large-scale penetration of these services. The low adoption of paid models for viewing content has also impacted service uptake. In addition, piracy and limited penetration of the digital payment mechanism has affected the mass adoption of paid models.

However, industry experts predict a positive outlook for this market.  In fact, a global survey commissioned by new media delivery specialist Vidiator indicates that India is now leading the way in monetising mobile content with 50 per cent of users having paid for mobile video content as against 26 per cent and 47 per cent of users opting for paid content in the UK and Malaysia respectively. Therefore, significant activity is expected in this market going forward.

Mobile TV offerings by leading operators

MTNL

MTNL offers mobile TV services through 50 channels on both 2G and 3G networks. The operator has priced its monthly 2G and 3G mobile TV services at Rs 99 and Rs 150 respectively. Subscribers can also opt for a single channel for a month. 2G users pay Rs 30 and 3G users pay Rs 50 for accessing a single channel. Further, 2G and 3G subscribers can opt for a single channel per day viewing packages for Rs 10 for both 2G and 3G mobile TV services.

BSNL

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) offers users three tariff options – the Gold, Single Channel Subscription and Channel packs. Users opting for the Gold pack can access 105 channels and select from monthly, weekly and three-day packs priced at Rs 99, Rs 35 and Rs 3 respectively. The Single Channel Subscription gives subscribers access to 30 mobile TV channels by paying Rs 40, Rs 20 and Rs 5 for the monthly, weekly and a three-day packs respectively. BSNL subscribers can also opt for the Sony, Star, MAA and Times packs, among others, for a monthly tariff of Rs 25 each.

Bharti Airtel

The operator offers users access to more than 110 channels including Colors, MTV, Star Plus, Aaj Tak, 9XM, Pogo and Discovery for a monthly subscription of Rs 150.

RCOM

The operator provides content in categories such as news, kids, fun and devotional. Its daily mobile TV offering is priced at Rs 10 to Rs 50 depending on the type of package.  Subscribers can also opt for weekly and monthly packages. Reliance Communications’ (RCOM) weekly packages are priced at Rs 35 to Rs 100 and the number of channels offered under the packages varies from 1 to 75. The operator offers monthly mobile TV services to users for Rs 75 to Rs 250 depending on the type of package.

Vodafone India

The service provider offers five tariff plans. Users can opt for the All Channel Pack priced at Rs 7, Rs 50 and Rs 150 for daily, weekly and monthly subscriptions respectively. In addition, the operator offers users the STAR Bouquet Pack on a weekly and monthly basis for Rs 30 and Rs 90 respectively for channels such as Times Now, NDTV, Zoom, AAJ TAK, National Geographic, Discovery, SONY TV, SAB TV, STAR ONE, STAR TV and Cartoon Network.

 
 
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