Mobile TV to alter viewing habits in Philippines

TV watching in the Philippines is expected to experience a dramatic change in terms of prime time viewing and TV advertising with the launch of myTV — the first commercial mobile TV service in the country.

Broadcasted through the use of mobile TV platform called DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld), myTV was launched Tuesday by Smart Communications Inc., and broadcast company 360media Corp. (360media), a subsidiary of MediaQuest Holdings Inc.

The service promises to enable mobile phone users to watch their favorite TV programs anytime and anywhere, for a monthly fee of P488 (US$11).

“Mobile TV is natural for a market like the Philippines,” said Orlando Vea, president and CEO of MediaQuest and 36Omedia. “Studies show we average nearly four hours a day watching television. myTV will allow us even more viewing time and will forever change prime time TV as we know it.”

Vea added with the change in prime time viewing, the showing of commercial TV ads that support current prime time TV shows would soon follow.

He explained, however, that myTV won’t replace the traditional TV set but only the viewing time and chances of people.

Vea said prime time TV refers to programs that are shown after a day’s working hours, usually in the mid-evening, but this would eventually change once myTV increases usage.

“Our ambitious target is 60,000 to 70,000 subscribers in the next month,” Vea said.

Vea revealed that based on a recent consumer studies and service trials conducted by MediaQuest and Smart, there is a strong acceptance for mobile TV and that there’s a huge market for cable TV viewers in the Philippines.

“Cable TV is watched by only 11 percent of televiewers nationwide and that 43 percent of consumer respondents we gathered watched myTV with companions,” Vea said.

Smart claims it has more than 27 million subscribers on its GSM network today.

Napoleon Nazareno, president and CEO of Smart, described myTV as the latest “life-changing” innovation by Smart and MediaQuest, as it enables Smart subscribers to be informed and entertained through TV while on the go.

He said the monthly package is available to both post-paid and pre-paid Smart subscribers.

myTV at present can be viewed in Mega Manila (extending to North and South Luzon Expressway), Cebu, Davao,Tagaytay, Batangas, and Baguio City. Boracay and Cagayan de Oro will soon follow.

“To give our subscribers an opportunity to try out the service, the service will be free until August 31,” said Danilo Mojica, head of Smart’s Wireless Consumer Division.

myTV can be accessed using DVBH-capable handsets — such as Nokia’s N92 and its upcoming N77.

Smart announced more DVBH handset models will be available later this year, as the company plans to offer attractive post-paid mobile TV handset packages to support the launch of the new service.

The myTV’s range of top-rated TV channels include 24-hour news channel CNN, music channel MTV Philippines, kid channel Cartoon Network, documentary channel National Geographic Channel, local movie channel Pinoy Box Office, also The History Channel, Solar Sports, Basketball TV, ETC, and Jack TV.

Live showing of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is set to follow beginning on the next season.

Smart executives explained myTV through the use of DVB-H, is a broadcast service that delivers content to many viewers simultaneously through a digital TV broadcast signal optimized for mobile devices — very much like the way conventional TV delivers a TV signal to homes.

myTV is not transmitted through the cellular network via video streaming and video-downloads services, which is currently offered through 3G cellular networks.

In a recent report relayed by Smart, research firm Informa Telecoms and Media forecasts that worldwide revenues from mobile TV and video services will rise from US$2.46 billion in 2006 to $8.35 billion in 2011.

A study by IMS Research published in August 2006 says nearly half a billion people will be watching TV on their mobile phones by the end of 2011.

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