UK: Virgin drops mobile TV service
Thursday, July 26th, 2007

UK-based Virgin Mobile has decided to dump its broadcast mobile TV service after less than a year because of poor customer take-up. Virgin Mobile’s business partner, BT, has decided to disband its BT Movio business, and cancelled its spectrum contract with GCap Media. It’s expected that the service will be switched off early next year. The BT Movio website has already been taken offline.

Poor take-up of the service is behind the decision. Virgin Mobile TV launched last October with a Ł2.5m advertising campaign, but it’s reported that only around 10,000 people subscribed.

One problem for the Virgin service was that it could only offer five channels, as it used a part of the digital radio spectrum rented from GCap Media. Rival companies such as O2 are planning to use DVB-H, which is backed by Nokia, and last week received the backing of the European commission. It can carry about 16 channels. But spectrum space will not be available in the UK until all analogue TV services have been switched off.

This hasn’t been a good week for mobile TV operators. Crown Castle International has also dumped its American mobile TV network - called Modeo - after four years of development, because it couldn’t find an operator to launch the service. It has leased the spectrum it planned to use for mobile TV to a couple of venture capital firms for $13m a year.

(Sources: Media Guardian, The Register)