Mobile digital TV tuners may be already installed in tens of millions of phones in Japan and Korea, but the networks have one major problem with the technology – it makes them absolutely no money.
Competition to offer the latest gear means the ability to pick up the free broadcasts tailored for mobile devices, such as 1-seg in Japan, is increasingly considered essential to all new phones in spite of the fact that they generate no revenues. That's an issue broadcaster NHK thinks it can exploit.
The Japanese equivalent of the BBC has just launched NHK Street, which promises downloadable video at 30fps - apparently, the best quality in the mobile video business.
Instead of the regular free-to-air channels available on 1-seg, NHK Street offers a range of TV shows in various categories from drama to cartoons for a flat fee of ¥315 (£1.60) a month.
As that charge appears on the user's phone bill every month, the fact that the networks get a cut appears to offer a solution to their blocked revenue stream option.
Throw in the dirty secret that 1-seg reception is so bad to render it almost unusable in many places and Japan's largest broadcaster could just have hit on the next big thing in mobile.