AT&T promises live mobile TV, but who’ll watch?
AT&T plans to offer a new mobile digital TV service, including full-length shows and some movies, which is an obvious step up from typical mobile video shows that are over in minutes. AT&T is launching the service May 4 in 58 U.S. markets, putting it on flashy phones from LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics.
But the service may not win over a big number of AT&T customers, if past consumer behavior is anything to go on. Only 5.9 percent of mobile users watched video on their phone once a month during December, January and February, while less that 1 percent watched video “almost every day,” according to M:Metrics, which surveyed more than 31,000 people.
AT&T Mobile TV will broadcast from a wireless network run by Qualcomm’s MediaFlo USA and will cost $15 a month for about 10 channels including Comedy Central, ESPN, MTV and NBC News. Or it will charge $13 for just four channels. Yet it remains to be seen whether prices, which are similar to Verizon Wireless’ MediaFlo service, are cheap enough to get consumers hooked.
It’s no secret that most people still want to use their phones mainly for talking and sending text messages. And those who do want mobile video are looking to pay much less or preferably nothing, according to Linda Barrabee of Yankee Group.
About 20 percent of respondents to a Yankee Group survey last year said they would consider paying a monthly fee for mobile video, and slighlty fewer said they’d favor pay-per-view. So how much would they pay? Apparently, less than $5 a month or about $1 for pay-per-view .