AT&T promises live mobile TV, but who’ll watch?

May 1, 2008

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 .


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I just don’t get this…I mean, I do get it, but don’t think it’ll last. I’m speaking about having to pay a separate monthly fee just to watch tv on your phone. You know what, I pay $150 a month to Comcast so I can get tv at home, and I will not spend $20 more a month, just to get the tv onto my phone. Absolutely ridiculous. Got news for ya AT&T…everyone with an iPhone should be eagerly awaiting Slingbox’s software release that allows you to watch your tv from home on your mobile phone. Slingbox already has software that runs on my iMac, and has software that runs on some mobile phones already out there. Oh, and all you need to do is buy a Slingbox, which are about $200. No monthly fee, nothing. As long as you have an internet connection and a screen, you can watch your tv that’s at home anywhere. Why is this way better? You can watch pre-recorded shows on your Tivo or DVR. Plus, I’m already paying for cable tv from Comcast, why should I have to pay again just to get it on a different screen. This is the same situation as recording cassette tapes, cds, .mp3s, etc. I pay for the media once, then should be able to watch/use/consume it how I chose, as long as I don’t in-turn profit from it or violate copyright laws.

Posted by iPhoneLuver | Report as abusive

you know this isn’ a bad deal for people out on the road. I spend time on the road working, and some t.v. on my phone would be great. if you don’t get it, then you don’t get alot of things then. Oh everybody knows the iphone isn’t that great of a phone by the way.

Posted by justin | Report as abusive