Mobile’s Growing Importance To TV’s Future

Smartphones have moved well beyond simple communication devices becoming a hub, enabling overall connectivity for consumers and opening doors to internet-of-things, mobile payments, virtual reality and beyond. This underscores the importance of including mobile content delivery platforms in TV station business plans. 

Do you know anyone without a smartphone? Anyone under the age of 85 that is. I have one acquaintance — someone outside media — who used to brag about still having a flip phone. Even he succumbed recently and went to a refurbished iPhone.

The point is that it’s almost impossible to participate in 21st century life in the U.S. without a smartphone. That’s also the central premise in the latest Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey. The report contends that they have moved “well beyond” simple communication devices becoming a “hub,” enabling overall connectivity for consumers and opening doors to internet-of-things, mobile payments, virtual reality and beyond.”

These findings underscore the importance of including mobile content delivery platforms in station business plans. While full ATSC 3.0 may be a few years off, stations need to take advantage of today’s mobile capabilities to foster consumer demand for solutions available with 3.0 players.

Here are just a few data points from the Deloitte study to consider:

  • The vast majority (93%) of consumers report using their mobile phones at work, a trend Deloitte attributes to more workplaces phasing out their office phones.
  • Outside of work, shopping ranks as the No. 1 activity for which consumers use their phones (93%) with spending leisurely time and watching TV following closely at 90%.
  • Interest in autonomous cars is also on the rise, with 62% of survey respondents saying they would consider eventually owning or riding in an autonomous car; occupants in these vehicles will be looking for ways to stay connected and informed.
  • Willingness to share information has increased; but consumers want to be the ones to determine what information gets shared. This will be an important component of addressable advertising efforts such as geo-targeting.

Cisco’s newest Mobile Visual Networking Index forecast supports the survey’s findings. Mobile video traffic accounted for 60% of total mobile data traffic in 2016. Moreover, Cisco’s analysis leads to the prediction that live video streaming on mobile devices is going to grow by a factor of 39 over the next five years.  

Marketers Are Keeping Step With The Trends


As we know from numerous reports and studies, the advertising community is keeping pace with the consumer’s mobile migration. These include Borrell Associates’ finding that TV’s share of the $9.8 billion spent on political ad dollars last year slipped from 57.9% in 2012 to 44.7%.

Digital media was the beneficiary of this reallocation, increasing more than eightfold, from 1.7% eight years ago to 14.4% last year, with social media sites receiving $2 out of every $5 spent on digital.

Looking ahead, Borrell predicts that “efficient targeting for mobile devices will be available; social platforms will be easier to use and supply more data; and programmatic sales will be used by both national and local campaigns.”

On the broader media sales market, BIA Kelsey is predicting annual U.S. mobile ad spending to grow from $33 billion in 2016 to $72 billion by 2021, a 17% compound annual growth rate. Location-targeted ads represent a significant portion of that overall growth, with the researcher forecasting a jump from $12.4 billion in 2016 to $32.4 billion in 2021.

BIA Kelsey sees TV’s adoption of ATSC 3.0 as a significant factor in that trend, observing, “Looking ahead, ATSC 3.0, the new transmission standard for broadcast TV, will offer new data capabilities for targeting audiences. The next step is how to plan for it. This technology supports personalized content delivery including programs and ads but relies on a larger ecosystem including an installed base of media gateways, connected TVs and mobile devices with ATSC tuners.”

Social Media’s TV Evolution

Mobile’s growing popularity as a place for watching television isn’t being lost on the digital media community. In his firm’s recent earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors “I see video as a mega trend, along the same order as mobile.”

To show how serious he is about capitalizing on that opportunity, Facebook’s CEO went on to say that the firm will be investing in more original video content in 2017, with a focus on shorter-form content. “Consumer video is exploding on our platform as Mark was talking about, and that really creates ad opportunities,” added Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s COO.

Facebook’s plans are in keeping with earlier statements, where Zuckerberg said he expected the platform would be “mostly video” within the next five years. And Facebook isn’t alone in being bullish on mobile video. Snapchat recently announced it was investing in six mini-episodes of the BBC nature documentary series Planet Earth which will be available exclusively to the social media site’s North American customers.

Nielsen’s research on the subject reveals that much of the reason for social media’s interest in TV is based upon the medium’s ability to drive today’s version of water cooler conversations. According to the firm’s latest social media report, there were 14.2 million social media interactions about TV across Facebook and Twitter on an average day this past fall.

Building Upon TV’s Mobile Success With ATSC 3.0

Promotions developed by TV networks and local broadcast stations are a big reason for those millions of social media interactions. For years now, stations have strengthened relationships with their viewers through social media, including taking advantage of tools like Facebook Live to reach millennial viewers as well as creating posts that drive viewers to their websites and broadcasts.

These relationships and video’s continued appeal to digital media consumers bode well for TV’s future, especially when station’s can add the live broadcast and targeted video on demand capabilities offered by ATSC 3.0. As the Advanced Television Systems Committee’s Dave Arland said in a recent interview, “it will be possible to receive a signal and display it deep inside a building or for a passenger to view live TV on a mobile device in a car or train.”

In addition, BIA/Kelsey is predicting that 3.0 will mean significant revenue for stations in just three years, that large and medium stations will easily recoup their investments in the standard. It’s all about the ability to pursue new business models and diversify stations’ current revenue streams.

Added to the technology upgrades that will be required at TV stations will be the costs associated with enabling 3.0 on smartphones and other portable media players. In Arland’s words, “ATSC 3.0 anticipates that many viewers may be watching on a future device with an embedded ATSC 3.0 tuner.”

There’s been a lot of talk about what can be done to persuade manufacturers to embed the 3.0 chip into mobile devices. There’s sense to that given the slow adoption and activation of FM chips in mobile phones. NAB’s Dennis Wharton believes it will be important to develop incentives that will “drive demand on the part of viewers, who will then ask the smartphone makers to get the chips in mobile devices down the road.”

While considering what types of incentives will be required for device manufacturers, it is also going to be very important to think about incentives for wireless carriers. Although they haven’t come out against the 3.0 standard, AT&T and CTIA are on record as urging the FCC not to award broadcasters funds for 3.0 as part of their post-auction channel repack.

In an essay entitled “Mobile 3.0 Mandate Needed, Just Not Now,” TVNewsCheck Editor Harry Jessell suggests that the industry needs to be aware of the politics involved. The industry risks alienating the Communications Technology Association, which “joined broadcasters in asking the FCC to approve 3.0 for use.” Additionally, there’s the awkward nature of a request for regulation against an industry while broadcasters are seeking regulatory relief. What may be broadcasters’ ace in the hole is having the emergency alerting “built into the DNA of the 3.0 standard.”

Making 3.0 A Reality

While there are still a few uncertainties concerning 3.0, we already know two very important things:

  • It can be a core component for maintaining broadcast television’s relevance in the emerging mobile world.
  • Delivering on its promise to consumers will require a win-win-win formula among all three stakeholders: CE manufacturers, wireless carriers (including Wi-Fi) and broadcasters.

The industry’s senior financial management community will be exploring these issues at the upcoming MFM CFO Summit. The agenda includes an update on ATSC 3.0 from Sandhi Kozsuch, principal of strategic and industry initiatives for Cox Media Group and chairman of the board of the Pearl broadcast consortium, and Jerry Fritz, EVP of strategic and legal affairs of ONE Media.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on TV’s mobile future and how MFM can help you to achieve a winning formula for the role of ATSC 3.0 in what Deloitte has called the “ubiquitous” world of mobile devices

Mary M. Collins is president and CEO of the Media Financial Management Association and itsBCCA subsidiary, the media industry’s credit association. She can be reached at[email protected] and via the association’s LinkedInTwitter, or Facebook sites.

Comments (3)

Leave a Reply

Gabby Fredrick says:

February 24, 2017 at 8:18 am

We already know this…Its been happening for years…

Gregg Palermo says:

February 24, 2017 at 10:27 am

I didn’t know about the very-latest tipping point. Thanks for sharing this new study.

Greg Johnson says:

February 24, 2017 at 6:26 pm

A cleverly written story using macro consumer mobile trends but no real local revenue numbers reflecting meaningful mobile revenue on broadcast TV stations and/groups. It is not helping TV to mask reality in this way.

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