Flo TV to Launch Sports Datacasting This Month, as Parent Qualcomm Studies Datacasting for Magazines and Other Opportunities
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sporting events,” and he also noted that cable TV operators have shown high interest in Flo TV’s business.
I later got more insight in an interview with Stone, who said, “the good news and the bad news about Flo TV” is that Qualcomm launched the service three years ago, which was long before anyone else. The good news, Stone explained, is that Flo TV remains the only mobile TV broadcaster in the United States, so Qualcomm is not in a competitive situation comparable to Sirius and XM, the rival satellite-based digital radio service providers that eventually combined in mid-2008. The bad news, Stone added, is that Qualcomm launched Flo TV “without a lot of key building blocks” so that Flo TV’s broadcasts only reached about half the country until existing additional TV licenses became available and digital broadcasting equipment could be used.
The mobile devices themselves have proved to be another barrier, Stone said. “What we found was that if we bet right on devices, we got subscribers—and if we bet wrong, we didn’t.”
The same thing could be said in general about Qualcomm’s bet on Flo TV. Company executives are trying to figure out what works—and what doesn’t—at a time of rapid convergence among broadcasting, mobile, and Web-based technologies.