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.
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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.