I recently received a FLO TV personal device and was eager to compare the live TV experience on a dedicated mobile TV device to that available on mobile phones.
The FLO TV Personal Television is pretty simple to use, with one initial difficulty in locating the TV guide. I assumed that channel up/down and guide keys would be located on the outside of the device, as the volume up/down, mute, power, and battery indicator buttons were. Instead, the guide key is on the front right of the device, and at first was not noticeable as a button. This is only a minor concern that once discovered was easy to get over.
To change channels, you can flick the screen up and down. While an intuitive gesture, it only became apparent when I stumbled across the section in the device settings that informed me of that feature.
The range of live channels is impressive, with 19 channels available on my device. However, even though I was in the middle of San Diego, which is the home of FLO TV and its parent company Qualcomm, reception was very poor. The coverage map of San Diego seems to be less than what you would find for Sprint TV’s service (powered by FLO TV’s main competitor MobiTV), though currently Sprint TV has only 6 live channels.
Do consumers want to watch live TV while on the go? Our recent research suggests that live TV content is not the top priority for mobile video users. While mobile TV would be useful to catch live sporting events while away from home, most of the time mobile video consumers are looking for on-demand content and are unlikely to want to be beholden to a TV schedule while on the go.
Furthermore, the monthly subscription price of $14.99 a month (or $149 to prepay for one year and $199 to prepay for two years) is more than what we believe consumers would pay for mobile TV. Our research suggests that $5 per month is a more compelling price for US consumers.
So while the FLO TV Personal Television is easy to use, has good content, and provides a clear picture, challenges in coverage and cost, as well as improvements in live TV on smartphones will make it difficult for this personal television to break through. FLO TV does power V Cast TV from Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobile TV, and has an edge there in bringing compelling live TV experiences to consumers.
- Chris Schreiner
Mobile Video: Identifying Consumer Preferences and Benchmarking Services
Interest and willingness to pay for mobile services