Mobile TV is often cited as being a dream of the future in most markets, but it has been around in Japan, the world’s most advanced mobile nation, for years.
The majority of the 100+ handsets Japan gets every year comes equipped with a 1Seg digital TV tuner (some even have 2 tuners to watch one TV program and record another simultaneously). 1Seg as a standard was established as early as 2006.
And in May 2009, Japan’s biggest mobile carrier NTT Docomo and major media content company Avex have established BeeTV to capitalize on the wide distribution of mobile TV tuners in Japan. For a monthly fee of 315 Yen/$3.80, BeeTV subscribers can view original content on their cell phones: dramas, cartoons, music videos etc. (provided they are i-mode users).
A few days ago, Avex issued a report [PDF] according to which the number of users has hit the 1.5 million mark in December 2010. BeeTV has grown from 0 to 560,000 users in just two months in 2009, but growth has slowed down significantly, especially in the last six months of 2010.
When BeeTV launched, the plan was to attract 3.5 million users by March 2013.