Mobile DTV And Changing Content Pricing Strategies

The New York Times has an interesting article on how TV viewership has changed over the past few years and how broadcasters are adapting to the same. According to the article, TV broadcasters have lost over 25% of their audience in the past one year due to increased use of on-the-go devices such as cell phones or laptops.

Broadcasters are hence adapting themselves to the changine dynamics by investing heavily on mobile DTV that can bring uninterrupted programming even to viewers in a car traveling at high speeds. Thirty stations in the US have installed in equipments costing $75,000 to $150,000 for the purpose.

While the changing scenario means uninterrupted access to programming for the consumer, the cost of accessing content is also likely to go up. In a patent filed recently by Qualcomm, the company has elaborated on a technology that will change the price of access to content dynamically which would mean viewers on mobile TV may lose content access if they don’t agree to the price offered.

The inventors explain

“A server within a mobile TV broadcast network may negotiate the price for accessing a broadcast program with individual users via their mobile devices. The server may receive requests to access broadcast programs with price offers from mobile devices. The server may respond to price offers by accepting the price offer or by making a counter offer until a mutually agreeable price is identified. Alternatively, the server may implement any of a number of types of auctions for access rights to broadcast programs. Similar to negotiable dynamic pricing methods, once purchase requests for viewing access to broadcast content programs at current asking prices are accepted, the mobile TV broadcast service provider may transmit the appropriate decryption keys to the users who made accepted offers or bids.”

How could this be implemented? Let us take the example of broadcasting Super Bowl final over mobile TV. People traveling by cars outside the city accessing the live content from their mobile phones could be charged a premium considering that there is not much of an alternative viewing option. On the other hand, those watching the same content from inside a city could be charged less because there are always alternate viewing options.

Having said that, this is just a patent application and there is no guarantee for this to see the light of the day. Nevertheless, it gives interesting insights into how mobile TV pricing structures may change as we move forward.