Viewers opt to watch mobile TV at home

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There is a high demand for television delivered over mobile telephones, according to research unveiled yesterday, but contrary to expectation people are choosing to watch at home rather than on the move.

In the first UK trial to offer the five main terrestrial channels, the mobile phone operator O2 and Arqiva, the owner of the UK's main broadcasting transmission networks, monitored 375 people in the Oxford area.

Those taking part in the trial, all O2 customers aged 18 to 44, were provided with mobile handsets that can receive 16 channels. Interim findings revealed that 76 per cent of the triallists would take up the service within 12 months, while 83 per cent were satisfied with the offering.

The home was the preferred place to watch mobile television, accounting for 36 per cent of usage, compared with 23 per cent at work or university, 21 per cent on the bus and 7 per cent in the car. On average, the triallists spent three hours a week watching television over their mobile phones, in one or two sessions of about 23 minutes each day. News, soap operas, music, documentaries and sport were the most popular genres.

During the day, there were clearly defined peaks of viewing in the early morning, at lunchtime and in the early evening.

Arqiva and O2 hope the results will convince government and the media regulator Ofcom to free extra spectrum for mobile television throughout the UK.

They point to other countries including Korea, which already has 300,000 mobile television subscribers and Finland, Italy and the US which are all about to launch services.