World Cup Update: US Out, Mobile TV Up
9:30 AM -- The US may be down for the count in the World Cup, but the 32-team tournament has already been the catalyst that mobile TV providers needed to help the service take off. (See ESPN Sees World Cup Cross-Platform Jump , Mobile TV Competes in World Cup , and Mobile TV Scores with World Cup.)
MobiTV Inc. has been waiting for an event to kickstart mobile TV’s otherwise slow start in the US, and the World Cup didn’t disappoint, says Jay Hinman, MobiTV’s senior director of partner and product marketing. It has been the single biggest viewing event in MobiTV’s history.
The multicast TV vendor's average viewership has increased fourfold to about 30 minutes per session, longer than the typical pop-in, pop-out users, Hinman says.
With help from ESPN’s promotional efforts, MobiTV’s new iPhone app is flirting with 1 million downloads and has become the second-highest revenue-generating iPhone app in Apple’s store. On the iPhone, users can download the free app or purchase a one-, three-, or six-month faux subscription. Hinman says World Cup content isn’t included in the free app, but it’s encouraging users to upgrade for it. The success has also encouraged MobiTV to launch an Android app this year. (See App Focus: MobiTV’s iPhone Streaming Success .)
“If you watch any World Cup game on regular TV they keep talking about watching it on your PC or mobile device,” Hinman says. “They are doing a tremendous job of raising awareness. This is the event they wanted to start to drive people to mobile.”
And, Hinman adds, the carriers, including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which is the only one to carry all 64 games, have handled the additional traffic without a hitch.
With the games wrapping up in 13 days, the question will become: Can MobiTV and other mobile TV vendors keep up the momentum? At least on the iPhone, users have the option to bail after their month subscription is up. But Hinman says for most MobiTV subscribers -- sports fans at least -- it is not just about the World Cup. They can also watch the French Open, Wimbledon, Major League Baseball, and more. MobiTV targets these users with other content in its rotating tiled interface.
“Once the World Cup is over, the fun doesn’t end,” he says.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile