Flo TV to Launch Sports Datacasting This Month, as Parent Qualcomm Studies Datacasting for Magazines and Other Opportunities
Some of Qualcomm’s top executives have been suggesting the San Diego wireless technology giant is looking at alternative uses of the 700 MHz spectrum that Qualcomm’s Flo TV has been using since 2007 to broadcast television programming to mobile devices. As we reported last month, Qualcomm Chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs said the number of Flo TV subscribers have not been nearly what the company expected.
At last week’s Uplinq conference, Qualcomm’s Jacobs and Flo TV President Bill Stone lifted the veil a little higher. Stone told me Flo TV will begin some sports datacasting on Flo TV this month, while Jacobs outlined how Qualcomm has been studying other ways of using Flo TV’s broadcast spectrum to offload data traffic and ease congestion on cellular networks.
Among other things, Flo TV plans to offer consumers more control over their mobile television broadcast schedule by launching “on-demand” TV programming and other time-shifting services, Stone told me last week. The Flo TV president said Qualcomm also should learn within the next two weeks if it’s getting the license needed to operate its mobile TV service in Japan (with Japanese partner KDDI), and Flo TV eventually plans to launch its mobile TV service in Taiwan, Malaysia, Latin America, and other international markets. Jacobs separately told reporters at a news conference, “We’re getting a lot of traction outside the U.S. for Flo TV.”
Qualcomm is particularly focused on improving Flo TV’s “service and value proposition,” Stone said, by encouraging operators to reduce subscriber costs and by using datacasting to add value to its broadcast services—especially during live coverage of sporting events. By the end of this month, Stone says Flo TV plans to datacast sports stats and “behind-the-game” video interviews with athletes that subscribers can click to access while watching sports coverage.
“We can literally put out gigabytes of data per day,” Stone told me. “There’s a lot of capability.”
Flo TV also sees datacasting opportunities for print media.
As an example, Jacobs said during his Uplinq talk: “Gizmodo recently reported that the iPad version of Wired magazine was about 500 megabytes. So if you think about the cost of supporting those kinds of data transfers on the cellular network, it’s probably similar to buying an old-fashioned printed version of the magazine or book, and mailing it through the postal service. If we use the broadcast network technology like our Flo TV network, we can get that magazine onto your mobile device in a much more cost-effective manner.”
(Jacobs used this example to introduce … Next Page »