Mobile TV, video makes progress

Mobile video and television aren’t lacking in standards, formats, vendors or flavors. Although no single technology has yet to attract a huge following, consumers can find options in streaming video, downloads, uploads, user-generated content, unicast, multicast and soon-to-be broadcast. This week several mobile TV or video providers took some significant steps in their service offerings, showing that the market also isn’t lacking in progress.

Building on a partnership announced last year with mobile video infrastructure provider RipCode, MySpace Mobile beta launched a streaming video component to its enormous social network on a number of smartphones (sans iPhone). MySpace users will be able to view streaming videos they have uploaded or marked as a favorite, as well as premium content and branded channels including TMZ, National Hockey League, National Geographic, The Onion and College Humor. Video is already a popular staple of MySpace’s fixed PC site, and mobile vice president and general manager John Faith has promised to continue extending the site’s popular features to mobile. With RipCode, video content is transcoded in real time so that the entire MySpace video library doesn’t require storage in multiple mobile formats.

Just shy of four months after passing the four million subscriber mark, MobiTV announced today it has added one million additional subscribers. MobiTV’s unicast TV service now has five million subscribers across 350 handsets and 20 carriers, including AT&T, Sprint and Alltel. The upswing came after thousands of viewers tuned into news broadcasts of the November presidential debates and Election Day. According to the company, Nov. 4 saw a 373% increase in viewers compared to the average daily viewing minutes during the time the election debates ran over MobiTV’s service from Aug. 20 to Nov. 3.

On Monday, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) approved the mobile digital TV specification as a Candidate Standard. The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), along with manufacturers Samsung and LG, approved the technology standards for mobile DTV deployments back in May, and local broadcasters successfully completed trials in Chicago and Denver last month. A final standard and the launch of full mainstream mobile DTV is expected by May of 2009. The candidate standard allows broadcasters to deliver local and live digital broadcast-quality TV to mobile consumers over their existing spectrum, and its completion means electronics manufacturers and automakers can now begin device development. The OMVC plans to showcase demos on a variety of mobile devices at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Tonight is also MediaFLO subscribers (particularly the males) lucky night as Qualcomm’s Forward Link Only mobile TV service will air the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show through a channel devoted to the event. Last year, 6.5 million tuned in to the show, so it will be interesting to see if MediaFLO’s still undisclosed number of subscribers will up the ante.

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