MONTREAL — TV on the go? The couch and the living room may get left behind.
Mobile TV services are poised for growth on smartphones and laptops and are expected to come to GPS devices, portable media players and entertainment systems in cars, analysts say.
“People are just going to get used to being able to see what they want wherever they go,” said Dan Costa, executive editor for PCMag.com in New York.
Costa describes traditional TV watching in the living room as a “lean back” experience. Not so when people are on the move.
“If you’re going to be mobile, chances are you are doing something else at the same time,” he said.
Sports, packaged entertainment and lifestyles information and breaking news are suited to this format, said Costa, who oversees product testing and reviews.
Live sports, so far, is the fastest growing area because consumers are willing to pay for it, he said. Consumers in the United States can pay to watch major league baseball games on their laptops or smartphones.
Costa said watching television in the back seat of a car is expected to take off with new DVD models that will be able to provide over-the-air TV.
He also noted that Apple’s new iPad is suited to watching TV programs and full-length movies.
But Costa cautioned that consumers should have unlimited data plans with their providers to avoid any unexpected surprises on their monthly bills.
New York-based tech trends firm ABI Research says the mobile TV market holds promise as a next-generation infotainment experience and has estimated it will have more than 500 million viewers globally by 2013. It will be positioned as an extension of traditional broadcast TV services, ABI says.
Mobile TV will go beyond smartphones so that “you are not struggling to see something on a very small screen,” said analyst Fritz Jordan, ABI’s consumer mobility expert.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be a cellular handset,” said Jordan, who expects mobile TV watching to take off in 2013.
He said computer tablets, netbooks, mobile Internet devices like Apple’s iTouch, automotive entertainment systems, portable media players and GPS devices are also suited to mobile TV.
He noted that many of the shows for mobile TV aren’t in real time.
“It’s not like Oprah comes on at 4 p.m. and you’re seeing Oprah. It’s delayed programming.”
In Canada, wireless carriers like Rogers, Bell and Telus offer a variety of content available for smartphones and personal computers that’s both packaged and live, including news, weather, sports and TV shows.
For the first time this year, Bell Mobility will offer its mobile phone customers live NHL playoff action, including the finals, through TSN and CBC, said spokeswoman Julie Smithers.
Deloitte Canada technology analyst Duncan Stewart said he doesn’t believe the way that people watch TV has changed that much over the years.
“Eighty per cent to 90 per cent of us watch ’Jeopardy’ when it’s on at 7:30 p.m.,” said Stewart, director of research for technology, media and telecommunications.
Until recently, the mobile TV experience wasn’t enjoyable due to challenges with network speeds and the devices themselves, Stewart said.
“Maybe the larger form factors like netbooks, iPads, tablets, or something like, that may make a difference. A bigger screen may change this,” he said.
But more live content will push up mobile TV watching, Stewart said, adding consumers will have to pay a premium for this.
Jordan said mobile TV will become more widespread once wireless networks are more advanced, a business model has been developed to monetize mobile TV and more content is licensed, among other things.
He noted that while mobile TV was launched by cellphone operators, it should have been an extension of the media industry.
He also believes consumers will embrace television on the move.
“How many people do you know that don’t watch TV?”