Comcast has moved quickly to trademark the brand DOWNLOAD2GO, which the pay TV giant is hoping to use to market a mobile video service and software that allows video downloading and viewing on smartphones and tablets. Another potential feature that could be offered under DOWNLOAD2GO would allow subscribers to transfer programming recorded on the DVR to a mobile device.
Because of the growing demand for a type of TV Everywhere service, pay TV providers are scrambling to prepare for this new paradigm of entertainment consumption by developing new mobile applications that allow video streaming and the transferring of DVR recorded programming on mobile devices. However, programmers want pay TV providers to pay separate fees for the right to broadcast content on mobile devices, which are currently not included in most active carriage deals.
If pay TV companies agree to the additional mobile broadcast fees, will customers agree to pay for it? That’s the question Comcast and other major pay TV providers need to know. Because pay TV subscriptions have been steadily decreasing, additional fees may repel rather than attract new customers, and may even cause the existing subscriber rolls to shrink. No pay TV company wants to be left behind on mobile video technology, but developing a mobile TV service that customers are willing to pay for takes time and money—a risk not all companies are ready or willing to take.
It’s true that customers are getting increasingly reliant on their mobile devices for entertainment. But in the end, there’s a cost to making content available and convenient for consumers. If the cost isn’t brought down to a level that consumers are willing to pay for, mobile TV won’t become the next frontier of entertainment consumption. As it stands now, the additional fees asked for mobile broadcasting rights may negate the benefits of offering mobile TV services in the first place.
Because of the economy, Pay TV companies are struggling to offer more without asking for higher fees. Customer churn is increasing due to higher prices, and keeping current customers from eliminating their pay TV subscriptions is still a top priority.
Currently, Comcast customers can take advantage of AnyPlay, which allows streaming of live programming to smartphones and tablets as long as they are at home.
Regardless of the cost now, it looks like pay TV providers think preparing for mobile TV is a great investment for the future. As they say, better to be ahead of the game than to be left behind by the times.