Research Notes

SMS still predominant in the changing World of Premium Mobile Services

In 2002, premium SMS services generated 1.2 billion Euro – 74% of the total value of the mobile services market. But this monopoly on the services market will change drastically up to 2005. Even though revenue from SMS services will increase in 2003 to over 2.8 billion Euro, it will already have lost 25% of its market share. And from then it is downhill all the way to 2005 – when premium SMS services will only be able to pull in a meagre 1.5 million Euro – just 7% of the total mobile services revenue in Western Europe!

Even though there are now many new mobile phones on the market across Europe offering colour screens and MMS, the success stories are however still coming from premium SMS services. One sector that is benefiting hugely from premium SMS are the media companies and in particular TV Broadcasters. Fresh figures from the Norwegian version of Pop Idol show just how much extra revenue can be generated from the integration of premium mobile services with television. Last year, media companies and TV broadcasters in Europe generated over 85 million Euro in revenue from premium TV voting mobile services. After their revenue split with the mobile operators, that left the TV and media companies over 46 million Euro income from TV voting in 2002.

That figure will rise to over 220 million Euro in 2003 and in 2005 will be over 650 million Euro – a welcome extra income for both media companies, TV broadcasters and of course the mobile operators.

So how well did Idol do in Norway? In a country with a population of only 4.3 million people Idol received 3.328.642 SMS votes at 0.6 Euro cent pr. SMS an average of over 183.000 SMS’s pr. programme. The final received over 900.000 votes by SMS and the second last show over 400.000 SMS votes from the 802.000 viewers who watched the programme – a staggering interactive participation marking new milestones in TV viewer participation.

All in all, Idol in Norway generated a total premium SMS revenue of just under 2 million Euro. That money is split between the two Norwegian mobile operators Telenor and Netcom, the Idol format owner Freemantle and the broadcaster Norwegian TV2.

Even with this many players in the mobile value chain, Norwegian TV2 earned over 416.000 Euro on Idol – a figure that would probably be at least double if TV2 had created the programme themselves and not licensed it from Freemantle. But even for a licensed programme, 416.000 Euro extra income, on top of the advertising revenue and other related revenue that the programme can generate, is very good indeed.

From a mobile services point of view, Norway is much more mature than countries like Germany and France, as Norway started offering premium mobile services over 3 years ago and is today the most advanced European premium mobile services country.

When audience participation figures reach this level on some of the big European markets, the revenue for the broadcasters -and the other participants in the value chain – will be enormous and the above figures would be at least 10 times bigger!

This could also help TV broadcasters get back to creating their own TV formats rather than playing it safe and buying formats that have already had success elsewhere. One of the big problems for the broadcasters has been the cost of creating own local formats that are not necessarily sellable as International TV formats, but have good local value for the viewers. With mobile services income on the scale described above, there would be much more incentive to try to create popular local programmes that have high national value, but little International value – something especially interesting for the public service broadcasters who are seeing their license funding cut back.

It will be interesting to see when TV broadcasters start using MMS for TV interactivity. MMS is being introduced at the moment to the mobile users in Western Europe, the first MMS offerings are simply that users can send Person to Person MMS’s to each other. But very soon most of the European mobile operators will start to offer actual MMS premium services. These MMS services will – in a manner of speaking – be similar to an SMS service that has been upgraded with sound and pictures. But as with SMS, the big volume and range of MMS services will not turn up before the mobile operators offer the content owners and service providers suitable revenue sharing models.

These models will most certainly be in place across Europe during 2003 and Strand Consult predicts that the value of premium MMS services in 2005 will
amount to 5.9 billion Euro in Western Europe, whereas premium SMS services will only be able to generate a meagre 1.5 billion Euro in 2005.

All the figures about how the mobile markets will develop up to 2005 are described in Strand Consults latest report ” Facts & Figures – The Current And Future Western European Market For Mobile Services” In connection with the compilation of Strand Consults reports about the Western European market for SMS and MMS P2P messages and Premium Mobile Services based on SMS/EMS, MMS, WAP and Mobile Applications, Stand Consult has collected, analysed and presented a great deal of information and actual sales data. This work was done to enable us to estimate the current and future market value of both P2P mobile messages and Premium Mobile Services.

This 300+ page report “Facts & Figures – The Current And Future Western European Market For Mobile Services” contains the full collection of Strand Consults mobile services revenue estimates up to 2005 for 16 countries in Western Europe. All the data is based on actual sales figures from across Europe in 2002 and presented in well-arranged graphs and tables and is very easy to navigate.
More information “Facts & Figures”
More information “How to make Money”
More information “Understanding SMS and MMS Service Market”

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