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How AT&T Could Make Mobile TV A Hit (T)

AT&T is finally ready to launch its mobile TV service next month, RCR Wireless News reports. The service will be broadcast on Qualcomm’s MediaFlo network, and promises better quality than AT&T’s current offering, which runs off their mobile data network. But we don’t need to see it to know that it’s a dud.

Why? Because just like Verizon Wireless’ MediaFlo mobile TV service, it won’t work on most phones AT&T sells — and won’t work on any phones that customers already own. RCR reports that the TV service will launch with just one device, a $200 – $250 phone called the LG Vu, which has a touch screen and “other trendy features.”

Here’s how AT&T could make the service a lot more attractive:

  • Build MediaFlo chips into every phone — or at least most phones. Almost a year after launch, Verizon Wireless still only offers four phones that work with MediaFlo — chunky gadgets ranging in price from $99 to $299. Not surprisingly, the service has hardly taken off: Research firm M:Metrics estimates that 800,000 VZW subscribers — about 1.25% of their overall subs — watch programmed video, including MediaFlo. The fact that you can’t get MediaFlo on an iPhone could be a deal-breaker for a lot of people.
  • Figure out mobile rights so mobile TV channels show the same thing as regular TV. Especially sports, which might actually be something we’d watch on a mobile phone in short chunks. According to MediaFlo’s program guide, neither NFL playoff game on Sunday was available to mobile phone viewers.
  • Sell it for less. Verizon charges $15 per month for MediaFlo, on top of regular data plans. That’s too much. Make it cheaper and offer it for free to AT&T U-Verse or satellite TV subscribers.

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