OK, so this is hardly a truly representative survey, but with all the hype around Mobile TV, Mobile Marketing thought it was time to find out what ordinary people thought about the idea, so we asked a random selection of people from different backgrounds and in different professions to share with us their thoughts on the following issues.
We asked them to answer five questions:
Would you ever consider using your mobile phone as a TV? Or have you already done so?
What sort of monthly fee would you consider reasonable to be able to watch TV shows on your mobile?
What sort of programmes would you expect for this money? Everything you can get at home? A small selection? Full length versions or stripped-down versions for mobile viewing?
How long do you think you could watch TV on a mobile phone for at one stretch, assuming it has a reasonable size screen, say 3 or 4 inches?
Would you be comfortable watching TV shows on your mobile on a bus/train or embarrassed in case anyone thought you should get a life?
The answers make for interesting, if perhaps uncomfortable reading, for those pushing the idea of mobile TV. But in the interests of helping those same people make the right decisions, we present the replies here. Think of it as a free mini Focus Group
Paul Bean, Customer Engagement Strategist:
Would you do it? No, the screen is too small.
What would you pay? N/A.
What would you watch? News is about the only thing that I would bother with.
How long? A few minutes.
How comfortable? I watch films on a laptop occasionally so this wouldn't be an issue.
Phil Lattimore, Editor, Total Mobile magazine:
Would you do it? Yes, and I have tried the trial services in Helsinki and Oxford. Good for
breaking news stories, catching sport and programmes you'd otherwise miss when on the move.
What would you pay? Up to 10, depending on the quality offered - not jerky streamed stuff, proper broadcast TV.
What would you watch? A comparable digital Freeview mix of channels the main 5 terrestrial channels, plus quality digital offerings, including Sky stuff. I might be prepared to pay more for pay-per-view games etc. I would want full programming rather than short versions I think it should be an extension of the home TV experience, familiar programming that you can watch when you're not at home, not a totally different form of entertainment.
How long? A couple of hours is fine its no different to straining to see a TV in the corner of a pub, you get used to it. I watched a movie on a mobile when the car broke down one evening and I was waiting for the AA. I thought it would be impossible, but it was fine as long as there's a decent narrative (I wouldn't bet on a Kung fu film working too well). Footballs fine too, as you can tell what's going on fairly easily too, especially with the commentary.
How comfortable? I think I would be a bit embarrassed, though I would use headphones, but if it was an England World Cup match and I was stuck on a train, I wouldn't be bothered at all. A bit like blokes watching movies on laptops - not much different at all.
David Smith, Postgraduate Student:
Would you do it? I honestly would not want to watch TV programmes on a mobile phone. I just think that waiting until you got home and watching it off Sky+ would be so much better. If the content offered was available before general broadcasting, that might hold some appeal, as a 'sneak preview', but it would have to be really cheap. Downloading clips from TV shows is possible over the internet, and I never do that because it's so inferior to watching on TV.
What would you pay? The monthly fee is difficult to assess. Personally I wouldn't pay more than a couple of quid for the novelty factor. Perhaps it could be a pay-per-view system?
What would you watch? Would I be right in thinking that you can access content on demand? In that case I would expect the latest big shows, like Lost, news bulletins, sports roundups, all available from an onscreen menu. Full sports events would be too difficult to watch on a small screen. Again, if some of the content could be offered before conventional broadcasting, that would have some appeal.
How long? I would imagine about half an hour.
How comfortable? I would be embarrassed about watching on a train. It would attract attention and I don't like being stared at. I would also be worried in case someone gave me a tap on the shoulder and nicked my fancy phone. I might never find out what happens next in LostOverall, I suppose I sound a bit grumpy about this. It's obviously a personal thing, but in my life I am never away from a TV long enough to need to access it on my mobile. If you commute every day and get back home too late to watch stuff on TV it might be interesting, but people are going to get serious headaches staring at tiny screens for hours on end.
John Archer, Technology Journalist:
Would you do it? No.
What would you pay? Nothing.
What would you watch? Dont care.
How long? 10 minutes.
How comfortable? Deeply embarrassed.
Keith Nagle, Barristers Clerk:
Would you do it? I would but haven't done so as yet.
What would you pay? 10, being the equivalent of the annual TV licence fee.
What would you watch? A small selection of stripped-down versions, particularly news events.
How long? 10-15 mins unless it's an important football match!
How comfortable? I wouldn't feel uncomfortable and people should mind their own business and get a life of their own.
George Cole, Journalist & Author
Would you do it? It's
something I'd consider but it wouldn't be anywhere near the top of my
priorities. I'd see it as a useful feature to have on rare occasions.
Apart from sitting on a long train journey or perhaps having a cuppa in
a caf, I can't see many times when I'd either want to or be able to
watch TV on my mobile. And to be honest, I'd be wary about running down
my battery and missing important calls simply because I wanted to watch
telly on my handset.
What would you pay? I wouldn't pay a monthly fee. It's the sort of
feature I'd rather pay for as I used it - a sort of pay-per-view
service. I couldn't see me wanting to use TV on a mobile on a regular
basis and therefore would see it as rather a waste of money to pay for
on a regular subscription. If I was paying pay-per-view, I wouldn't want
to pay more than a couple of pounds.
What would you watch? I wouldn't want to watch a full-length programme
on a mobile - if I was that interested in a programme I'd rather see it
on a TV screen. If I was out or away, I'd set the Sky+ to record it and
catch it when I got home. If it was a live footy game, I'd find a pub
and watch it on their telly. The same applies to watching programmes on
a PC - although I have the facility, I'd much rather view them on a TV.
How long? Not very long at this size! Maybe 10-15 minutes at a stretch.
How comfortable? I wouldn't feel embarrassed, especially if I was
wearing headphones. People are used to others peering at laptops, PDAs,
Gameboys etc, so I don't think a mobile would raise too much interest
from other commuters.
Paul Griffin, Finance Director:
Would you do it? No.
What would you pay? Nothing.
What would you watch? I imagine the only thing worthwhile would be important sporting events or news bulletins.
How long? Half an hour.
How comfortable? No problems in that respect.
Karen Wilson, Supply Teacher:
Would you do it? Yes I would consider using my mobile phone for important events if I was out e.g. The X Factor results!
What would you pay? Not much, otherwise I would feel it wasn't worth it - I could wait until I got home and watch recorded programmes.
What would you watch? I would expect everything you get on the TV at home so you knew the schedule and could plan when to watch.
How long? Only a short time but maybe use it like a radio so can keep an ear out whilst doing other things and watch at vital moments.
How comfortable? I wouldn't watch TV shows in confined public areas - it would be embarrassing and not very sociable.
Chris Price, Technology Journalist:
Would you do it? Probably not. Unless it was free or it was content that commanded a premium.
What would you pay? I don't think more than 5, even for premium content.
What would you watch? I don't think there's much point offering stuff you can see at home, unless it's time-sensitive. Conceivably, Premiership goals after the whistle has blown, but even that loses its appeal the closer you get to Match of the Day. Obviously 3 and Vodafone already offer this anyway.
How long? I think a couple of minutes max.
How comfortable? I might feel embarrassed or worried that someone was going to mug me for my phone.
Norman Bekker, Marketing Manager:
Would you do it? No.
What would you pay? Zero.
What would you watch? I currently do not have a need to watch television on my mobile.
How long? Not at all.
How comfortable? Get a life watching day time programmes on my mobile?
Steve May, Publisher:
Would you do it? Yes I would. No I haven't.
What would you pay? A fiver - no more. And that depends on the channel choice.
What would you watch? News. Soaps. light entertainment. Music. Don't want films.
How long? Probably 10 minutes if I was bored.
How comfortable? OK, I would not have a problem with it.
What does this all mean for the future of Mobile TV? Well presumably, the networks will research the idea a little more thoroughly than this, but from this snapshot, its clear that they may have their work cut out to sell the idea to their customers. Its interesting, though, that while many of the respondents were against the idea in theory, the one who had had most experience of it in practice was convinced by the idea, even to the extent of watching a whole movie on his phone.
I guess the other point worth making is about the suitability of the device you use to watch TV on your mobile. Mobile Marketings current 3G phone is a Sony Ericsson 'Mars bar' device with a 1.5 x 1.25-inch screen, which makes watching the football highlights too hard to bother with. You simply cant see the ball when it moves because the screen is too small.
It wasnt our first choice, but the Samsung SGH-Z140V we originally opted for had a software fault which meant it could not access the football highlights that Vodafone were using to promote the 3G tariff in question. The Sony-Ericsson was the only other phone that the deal was available on. As a result, having been sold on the tariff, our experience of 3G so far has been somewhat disappointing. This is something that both the networks and the handset makers need to take into account. For a really satisfying 3G experience, the handset is key.