Making TV mobile

Mobile TV With the demise of Qualcomm’s Flo TV service, and interesting clash could be brewing between digital platform providers and incumbent video providers over the best new approach to making TV service mobile.

As I noted in a previous post, both Google and Apple appear to be working on strategies to integrate mobile video with digital living room platforms. While Apple’s strategy is still shrouded in official secrecy, the chicken entrails say it will likely involve integrating stored (or  recorded?) content with content purchased through iTunes or the App Store in a cloud-based platform, where it could be accessed by mobile devices (iPad, iPhone). Google, meanwhile, is poised to launch Google TV this fall. The new platform is built on Android, which makes integration with mobile devices (such as the Android-powered tablet being developed by Motorola and Verizon) a likely scenario.

Multichannel video distributors, however, have also been making news recently. In its Q2 earnings call this week, Cablevision said it is developing apps for the iPad and other mobile devices to allow existing Cablevision subscribers to access all their pay-TV content while not in their living rooms. DISH Network, meanwhile, said this week it will leverage its Sling Media technology to let subscribers stream their satellite pay-TV content to mobile devices.

At first blush, Cablevision and DISH would appear to have the upper hand in the race because they already have the one element essential to any content-delivery service: licensed access to the content. Apple and Google may be better positioned to monetize mobile delivery, however.

Google TV represents Google’s bid to bring search to TV viewing, just as Android was its bid to make search apart of the mobile experience. If there’s one thing Google knows how to do it’s monetize search. Integrating mobile video into the iTunes and App Store platform would give Apple built-in access to an existing audience of tens of millions of iTunes users. For their part, Cablevision and DISH say they have no plans to charge subscribers for the additional access.

The wild card here could be retailers. On Thursday, Sonic Solutions and Widevine announced plans to rollout a mobile movie delivery platform built on Sonic’s white-label streaming system and Widevine’s cross-platform DRM management. Sonic already powers digital storefronts for Best Buy, Blockbuster and Sears, all of whom are major DVD/Blu-ray retailers with ambitions to get into mobile video.

Get ready to rumble.

Further reading:

Cablevision To Deliver Live TV & VOD to iPad

DISH Network Offers Live TV on iPad, BlackBerry, Android smartphones

DirecTV, Cablevision Sales Rise as People Watch Television to Save Money

Nielsen: How People Watch — The Global State of Video Consumption