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Pay-per-view jumps to mobile, despite slow payment adoption fears

Now that consumers are more interested in avoiding cable packaging deals, the opportunity for pay-per-view on mobile is greater than ever before, but networks may remain dubious due to slow mobile payment adoption.

Numerous sports brands such as ESPN, NBA and WWE are taking to mobile devices to stream their content, making it more available to a wider audience. However, other brands may be choosing to hold off due to payments in mobile growing at a much slower rate compared to its predecessor, desktop.

“Mobile PPV is a complete newborn and we’re waiting for it to start kicking and screaming,” said Mazen Alawar, director of marketing at Hang, LA.  “I think this allows [pay-per-view providers] to go direct to consumer the way nothing else does.

“Brands can now circumvent media houses if they so choose,” he said. “Brands can also facilitate consumer content by offering free access to loyal customers.

“[Providers] should keep in mind that purchasing through mobile phones has had a slower adoption rate than Web, so they can expect it to take some time to mature.”

Mobile shift
Mobile and social media has drastically shifted traditional networking programming and how it is served to viewers. Consumers are now in control of how they want to watch entertainment content, and networks must adapt.

Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have created an on-demand dependency. Consumers now want instant gratification in all forms of media, and content providers must supply these options or risk getting left behind.

The on-demand lifestyle of today opens up an array of opportunities for pay-per-view providers to reach fans, as the format fits cohesively into mobile platforms.

For instance, the NBA is now offering single-game options available for prices starting at $6.99 on mobile devices. Consumers can order whichever game they want to watch, at the time of airing, instead of having to buy a bundled deal for all the games.

The single-game option allow fans of particular NBA teams who do not necessarily watch the entire seasons to enjoy the action without having to pay for the entire package. This gives the NBA access to and profits from originally unavailable viewers.

ESPN is planning to allow viewers access through mobile devices and on-demand service Vuclip is partnering with WWE to serve fans mobile content. Meanwhile, more cable networks continue to provide standalone services.

Marketers may be wary to jump in on pay-per-view on mobile because the platform has had a much slower growth rate than desktop had starting out.

Mobile screens are smaller and seem less secure to consumers, so its adoption has been slow. But with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and a variety of other protective mobile payment services, customers are becoming more comfortable paying through untethered devices.

Global access
Mobile also allows for pay-per-view events to go global, because digital efforts are instantly worldwide. Once content is published to the Internet, it is immediately accessible to consumers all over the world.

“Mobile pay per view gives providers an opportunity to dramatically improve footprint, not just because of ubiquity of mobile devices but because of their omnipresence,” said Sastry Rachakonda, CEO of  iQuanti, New York. “People do not have to be at home in front of their televisions to get pay-per-view, which dramatically increases the opportunity.

“The other opportunity is globalization,” he said. “For example, Chinese soccer fans would be able to view the English Premier League on their mobiles, on a pay-per-view mode, at $0.95 per match.

“Given the global popularity of LeBron James, we can see that as a huge opportunity for the NBA.”