Mobile television is television viewed on a small handheld or mobile device. This includes services provided over mobile phone networks, received free-to-air through terrestrial television stations or via satellite broadcasts. Regular broadcast standards or special mobile TV transmission formats may be used. Additional features include downloading TV programs and podcasts from the Internet and saving programming for later viewing.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the growing adoption of smartphones led to users watching more mobile video during the three days of the 2010 Winter Olympics than they watched throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics, a fivefold increase. However, except in South Korea, consumer acceptance of broadcast mobile TV has been limited by a lack of compatible devices.
Early mobile TV receivers were based on older analog television systems. These were the first televisions that could be carried in a coat pocket. The first was the Panasonic IC TV model TR-001, introduced in 1970. The second was sold to the public by Clive Sinclair in January 1977. It’s called Microvision or MTV-1. It had a two-inch (50 mm) CRT screen and was the first television to receive signals in multiple countries. It measured 4.0 inches (100 mm) x 6.25 inches (159 mm) × 1.6 inches (41 mm) and sold for less than £100 in the UK and around $400 in the US. The project took over ten years to develop and was funded by around £1.6 million in British government grants.
In 2002, South Korea was the first country to launch commercial mobile TV over 2G CDMA IS95-C, and 3G (CDMA2000 1X EVDO) networks. In 2005, South Korea became the first country to broadcast satellite mobile TV via DMB (S-DMB) on May 1 and terrestrial DMB (T-DMB) on December 1. South Korea and Japan are developing this sector. Mobile TV service was launched in Hong Kong in March 2006 by operator CSL on a 3G network. BT launched mobile TV in the UK in September 2006, although the service was abandoned less than a year later. Germany’s MFD Mobiles had a failed attempt with Fernsehen Deutschland, who launched their DMB-based service in Germany in June 2006, but ended in April 2008. Also in June 2006, Mobile Operator 3 (part of Hutchison Humpoa) in Italy launched their mobile TV service, but unlike Germany’s MFD it was based on the European DVB-H standard. In the US Verizon Wireless and AT&T offered MediaFLO, a subscription service from March 2007 to March 2011.
In the 2010s, specialized mobile TV platforms and protocols were phased out with the rapid deployment of LTE cellular networks and the growing popularity of streaming television over the Internet from modern smartphones.