Bell Gives Mobile TV Platform a Much-Needed Boost

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Right on time to scoop up some frustrated former free-streamers after the shutting down of sites like Megaupload, Bell has teamed up with QuickPlay to roll out a brand new Mobile TV platform. The new service package is said to be focusing its efforts on live event coverage, suggesting content and an instinctive interface.

But is this most recent launch a mere makeover—or an innovative, comprehensive tech upgrade?

“Users of the new interface will immediately notice the new layout,” says Karen Ng, director of Bell Mobility. “It presents the content choices in a cleaner way, making navigation and exploration much easier [with] the ability to multitask and search within the app while watching videos.” Also worth mentioning on the new platform; custom push notices, alerts and automated content suggestions based on your previous viewing patterns.

Quickplay, which was launched in Toronto in 2004, has expanded into one of the industry’s veritable quiet giants. The company specializes in secure and scalable multi-platform video content; using an OpenVideo platform that tailors content and encoding to every device’s specific strengths. This has earned them a myriad of privileged contracts and partnerships with media and communications companies like the CBC, Rogers, AT&T, MTV and TLC—all eager to keep up with an increasingly multi-platform news and entertainment market. Bell Media, on the other hand, brings a whole different deck of cards to the table, with an empire spanning 28 conventional television stations including CTV, 30 specialty television channels such as TSN, 33 radio channels and a slew of websites like Sympatico.ca. A match made in heaven… right?

Well, it’s not quite enough, according to some. Online reviews and critiques are already ripe with indignation over the $5 for 5 hours cost. This, they say, on top of Bell’s basic TV and data subscription charges. Boosted content and a prettier interface might just quiet the crowds, but one might still wonder whether the dream team navigated the pay versus free content divide very elegantly.

In August 2011, numbers were pegging Mobile TV users as representing anywhere between 4% to 5% of Bell subscribers. This, in light of a mobile market expanding at dizzying speed, might be perceived as unimpressive. Despite this, Bell has reached agreements and partnerships with an unrivalled number of television broadcasters. Its main competitors, which include Rogers and Telus Mobility (the latter of which has17 streaming channels to its name), have had trouble stepping up to Bell’s 25 live-stream channels and increasingly enviable VOD library.

They’ve also got another trick up their sleeve. “We have strategically focused on live programming, realizing that customers want the ability to stay connected to sporting events, breaking news and much more – no matter where they are,” says Ng.  This is a rather strategic move in a market stock-full of viewers who increasingly restrict their live-television consumption to elections, award shows and sporting events. Glee and Jeopardy, it seems, can wait—the Habs vs. Leafs game… not so much.

So where does this leave Bell in the Mobile TV market? Confident, to say the least. “Mobile TV wouldn’t be possible without a fantastic network to support the bandwidth required… [it] exemplifies the power of Bell’s 3G/4G/LTE network.” Bell’s powerful network, extensive media partnerships and Quickplay affiliation might just secure them a bear’s share of the Canadian Mobile TV market. And with Bell acquiring exclusive rights to the upcoming 2012 London Summer Olympics through CTV, constant access to sport coverage is bound to be in high demand.

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