Late last week, FLO TV, a wholly owned subsidiary of mobile chip juggernaut Qualcomm, announced that it has joined forces with Rentrak to create the “first comprehensive audience measurement and reporting system for multicast mobile TV in the U.S.”
Think Nielsen Ratings, but specifically for TV piped to and viewed exclusively on mobile devices. According to the press release:
Through their collaboration, FLO TV and Rentrak will deliver reporting that will serve as the currency for advertising sales on FLO TV and provide deeper insights into FLO TV audience viewing patterns while not divulging any individual subscriber’s personal information.
Mobile TV, at least here in the States, still has a long way to go both in terms of deployment and popularity, especially when compared to the likes of Japan, South Korea, and even the European market. However, in the same way that people (slowly) transitioned from checking/sending email on their laptops to reading/writing email on their smartphones, it seems that the same possibility exists for TV.
As the available content, hardware, and quality of mobile TV continues to improve and expand, Americans will slowly become more accustomed to viewing TV on their mobile handsets. Instead of watching short (often prerecorded) clips or locally stored media while on the go, the ability to watch live sports events, breaking news, or your favorite must see TV anywhere and at any time is sure to catch on here in the land of convenience.
While maybe not the most exciting news, this announcement at least sheds some light on the fledgling mobile TV space here in the United States. Currently, FLO TV services are only available through AT&T and Verizon Wireless, but as more and more carriers offer access to mobile TV, audience measurement and statistic reporting information will become invaluable to advertisers and content providers.
“The mobile space is particularly opportunistic as a result of devices being connected to a unique viewer, enabling a highly targetable new advertising marketplace,” said Ken Papagan, president and chief strategy officer, Rentrak. “We are very excited about our collaboration with FLO TV because it leverages the considerable development Rentrak has put into the TV Essentials system and expands the value of our service for conventional linear television to include the mobile platform.”
At a minimum, it will be really interesting to see how mobile TV continues to grow. In my experience, mobile TV currently works best over WiFi, while suffering considerable degradation when viewed via 3G. But as mobile devices continue to become more powerful (see: Snapdragon / Tegra) and mobile carriers continue to upgrade and improve their networks, mobile TV will surely become more worthwhile (er, at least watchable), and ultimately play a larger role in the mobilesphere.