CES Showcases Mobile TV: But Will They Pay?

The Consumer Electronics Show opens tonight in Las Vegas and there are a ton of announcements coming out of the show already. Mostly they surround three areas: eReaders/Tablets/Slate computers, 3D TV and mobile TV. Here are just a few of the announcements and related coverage so far:

The Samsung Moment is offering free TV via the new mobile DTV standard. Free TV will be of interest to most people who would like to watch TV on mobile devices.

But the persistent question surrounding the so-far unsuccessful mobile TV efforts in the US and abroad is how to get consumers to pay. Then there are the "TV Everywhere" efforts of TimeWarner, Dish Network and Comcast to provide access online and in some cases via mobile devices to subscribers. This extends the "reach" of their subscriptions to other devices.

Although paid offerings have not been very successful to date, a recent survey shows an apparent, growing willingness to pay for premium TV and video content on smartphones. However other surveys show price sensitivity: 

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Source: QuickPlay Media, n=1,000 (3/09)

There will ultimately probably be three or four "mobile TV" business models in the market:

  • Mobile as part of a home cable subscription
  • A la carte pricing (i.e., movie, TV show rentals)  
  • Free, ad-supported TV broadcasts
  • TV as part of a product bundle used to "upsell" customers to the next tier of service

The idea of a monthly fee for a stand-alone mobile TV subscription, however, is likely to fail (as it has to date).