02 Oct 2010

Flo Forum - Technology Trends (Page 2 of 3)

Clearly there are several core elements that define a well-rounded solution and provide for a compelling user experience.

These include the range and ease of access to content; the delivery of a seamless viewing experience and the availability of features that go beyond normal TV viewing.

We have reached a crucial point in network congestion as consumer demand for engaging and interactive experiences continues to grow, and the industry must consider technology platforms that enable the increased delivery of even more varied and rich content.

As more and more sophisticated devices are introduced to the market, making the right technology choice - one that results in the most interactive, rich and engaging experience for users - is imperative.

Fit for a summer of sport - The World Cup goes mobile

Nothing can encapsulate a country's hopes and dreams while rallying national support quite like sporting events, and this year's World Cup was no exception. There have been few World Cups that have resonated as deeply as this one, in part due to the multitude of viewing options available to fans around the world. It was truly the first World Cup that went "mobile" as global mobile viewing figures grew exponentially. In the U.S. alone, ESPN Mobile Web, ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup and ESPN ScoreCenter applications generated 8.2 million visits and 50.4 million page views to World Cup content. Plastered from bedrooms to banner ads, this year's FIFA World Cup was an inescapable highlight of the summer.

Sporting broadcasts

The World Cup lived up to its billing by drawing a global viewing audience numbering in the hundreds of millions. Varying from ad-hoc catch-up of matches and highlights to full blown live coverage, viewers were given multiple options from which to access their favourite games. Platforms such as BBC's iPlayer and ITV Live were the de facto choices for online viewers in the UK, and drew in unprecedented ratings. During England's knock out match against Slovenia, BBC Sport Online hit a record 6 million unique visitors, and EasyNet Connect, a business ISP saw a 226% increase in web traffic owing to many employees streaming footage direct to their desks during work hours.

The appeal of the World Cup even reached nations that have historically not focused on or expressed interest in football. For example, the American sports network ESPN saw a massive increase in traffic and ratings. The network experienced a 40% increase in viewing figures over the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and the USA v. Algeria match received an unprecedented 6.1 million viewers.

But for broadcast mobile media, this year's World Cup was instrumental in showing the value of live, event-driven mobile television - and specifically for dedicated mobile media platforms. During the first five days of the tournament, FLO TV's total viewing minutes surged 39 percent. The opening match featuring South Africa v. Mexico recorded the highest-rated sports telecast on FLO TV to date, with 80 percent of FLO TV watchers tuned in to the match.

Overcoming the bottleneck

Based on a dedicated broadcast mobile media platform, FLO TV overcomes the problems of "bottlenecking" inherent in using 3G networks for mobile TV and video. Rather than burden the networks with additional data streaming, FLO TV operates independently but complementary to 3G networks, which enables operators to continue offering their same core services uninterrupted. Calls weren't dropped, web pages and apps were able to load properly and social media services like Facebook and Twitter continued to operate unaffected.

With the 2012 London Olympic Games as the next major sports fixture just around the corner, the time is right for the mobile media value chain to come together and show the choice, quality and control broadcast mobile media can bring to the consumer. We have seen just a glimpse of the possibilities during the 2010 World Cup, but London 2012 could offer so much more. With the right convergence of devices, network infrastructure and event driven content, broadcast mobile media can help make London 2012 the first truly mobile Olympics. Only through collaborative initiatives and a consistent focused effort will consumers have access to interactive, seamless mobile sports coverage. With the global market for mobile television forecast to be worth $11.9 billion in 2012 (Juniper), it's a vision that can be realised.

A big future for the small screen

Mobile phones have become a fundamental part of communications with increased processing power and memory to carry more personal data than ever before. For the mobile broadcast industry, mobile devices have also become the gateway to a range of entertainment experiences - helping deliver consumers a plethora of high quality, uninterrupted information and content.

These experiences are increasingly being accessed on a greater range of devices including smartphones, personal media players, in-vehicle devices, portable game consoles, and e-readers. Consumers have never had so many device choices, and although mobile phones are anticipated to still be the predominant method of viewing mobile video in the future, In-Stat predicts that over 160 million mobile TV-enabled (non-phone) devices will be sold in the next few years.

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About the author

Dr. Kamil A. Grajski is President, FLO Forum & Vice President, Engineering, QUALCOMM. He earned his doctorate in Biophysics at UC Berkeley and his BA in computer science at New York University, and has previously held positions as VP, Engineering and VP & General Manager of the QUALCOMM SnapTrack division which focused on the global commercialization of Assisted-GPS technology and services, including Wireless E-911, resulting in over 150 million AGPS-enabled chips shipped worldwide to date.

The FLO Forum is a global organization made up of companies from every part of the mobile broadcasting value chain. It is dedicated to the development and promotion of MediaFLO technology as an open standard for broadcast mobile multimedia. The group works collaboratively to generate technical specifications for submission to global standards and regulatory bodies.

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