More than a year after its launch, takeup rates for Qualcomm’s mobile TV broadcast service are disappointing, says CEO Paul Jacobs.
Neither Qualcomm or Verizon Wireless, the only carrier that offers the MediaFlo service, have released subscriber numbers, but our best guess is that they’ve got a few hundred thousands subs, max. A second operator, AT&T (T), has talked up the fact that it’s going to sell MediaFlo service since last February, but still hasn’t rolled it out.
“(The carriers) haven’t spent a lot of advertising on it to this point,” Jacobs said during a keynote interview Wednesday, according to RCR Wireless News. One reason Jacobs floats: “It’s not as nationwide as we would have liked.”
He’s right: MediaFlo is only available in about 60 U.S. markets. That will change in the next year as TV stations move to digital-only broadcasts and get off the spectrum Qualcomm (QCOM) bought five years ago.
But here’s an alternate theory: People just aren’t that into MediaFlo. It costs money — $15 to $25 per month at Verizon — and requires a new, special phone, which Verizon only stocks in a few different designs.
Moreover, we’re not convinced that people want to watch pricey, full-length TV programming on their phones at all. More than a year after MediaFlo launched on Verizon Wireless, 820,000 subscribers, or 1.5% of their base, watched watched some form of broadcast TV (including MediaFlo) on their phones, according to research firm M:Metrics. We’re more enthusiastic about free, short-form mobile video clips, like Google’s mobile YouTube site.
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