Is Fox Mobile’s bitbop FloTV Without a Special Chipset? Does Subscription Mobile TV Make Sense?

Who, exactly, is the target audience for over-the-air (OTA) mobile television? I’ve thought about this off and on ever since I spoke with FloTV’s head of programming last summer.

Podcast 33: FloTV Streaming TV Programs-Jonathan Barzilay, Head of Programming

The OTA aspect is very different from the more common stored content (e.g., TV shows or movies) on devices like smartphones and netbooks for later viewing. Its payment model is also very different since OTA mobile TV is based on a subscription model instead of the more familiar single payment for a discrete TV episode or movie. FloTV’s implementation is limited by the need for a special Qualcomm chipset to decode digital channel 54. This means that only certain mobile phones (none of which are smartphones) can use their service.

GigaOm provides information about a similar service that has a chance of reaching a larger (or at least different) audience by not being dependent on a hardware decoder.

Fox Mobile Offers Hulu-like Subscription Service for Smartphones

bitbop is currently in private beta testing (invitation required). It says it can stream on-demand TV programming over WiFi or 3G networks to a variety of smartphones. When launched bitbop is planning to charge $10 per month for programming. Would you play $10 per month to watch a relatively limited selection of programming (presumably Fox network shows)?

Addendum: @RossRubin (Executive director of industry analysis for consumer technology at NPD) pointed out (tweeted) to me that: “FloTV without a Special Chipset”? That’s MobiTV, not Bitbop, and has been around for years. Point taken. Correction noted. bitbop, however, does not need a special chipset either. My question remains: Does Subscription Mobile TV Make Sense?