Korean Mobile TV Market: Consumers Are Tuning in, But Where’s the Money?

An article by Evan Ramstad in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal highlights that while mobile video/TV services are gaining traction in markets such as Korea, it is still proving difficult for the ecosystem to make money. The article highlights the different technologies being used (3G and DMB) for both video (3G, pay/subscription) and live TV services (DMB, both pay/subscription for premium and free/ad-supported).

Sort of reminds me of strategies for Web 2.0 players – go to market first, build audience, then worry about the business model later. And, Korea is not unlike the U.S. market in terms of what mobile video/TV services are currently available (combination of 3G video-on-demand and live TV services via alternative platforms, such as MediaFLO USA). What is new and coming to the U.S. include broadcasters that that plan to get in mobile TV via their free-to-air plans (see my blog post “Mobile DTV Standard Approved by ATSC“). While Korea may have been a good testing ground for the content and potentially ad formats that work, what still is troubling is the challenges still facing the players in making money and turning a profit for their investments. Will advertising save the day? Not any time soon – as the perpetual chicken and egg scenario exists – advertisers will come if there’s audience, and right now it is limited. I for one believe in ad-support and the mobile Web for video distribution and consumption.