Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mobtv Sg Review

Every Mediacorp viewer in Singapore knows that Mobtv Sg is the online video on demand subscription service of Mediacorp Pte Ltd. Often on Channel 8 OR Channel U, viewers can see ads for Mobtv. So the question is : Is Mobtv Singapore worth paying a extra $10-$20 monthly for?

Previously with the Mobtv Promo code, you could at least get Mobtv Free for a free trial, so if you have never subscribed to this video on demand service provided by Mediacorp, read on to find out more.

Considering that Singaporeans have no lack of choice in watching for free what is produced by Mediacorp on their TV, what does Mobtv offers as an alternative?

- Video On Demand (watch and rewatch the current Channel 8 or Channel 5 shows at your own free time even if you missed it. )
- Rewatch Classic Shows (Mobtv Gold) that you loved back in the 80's and 90's.
- Catch unair espiodes of new or current Mediacorp shows before they are broadcast on Tv (Mobtv Sneak Previews)
- Asia Channel and Mobtv Select.

However it remains to be seen if Mobtv deliver enough value for viewers to justify subscribing to them. Especially with the other entertainment sources of Starhub Cable and Singtel Miotv or even DVDs.

As of this writing, Mobtv sign up price for MediaCorp Channels Package is $10 (SG Dollars) and their occasional promo offer of $20 SGD for 3 months is not available.
However the previous Mobtv price (if memory serves correctly) was $15 Sgd per month so there has been around 30% price drop.

Why has Mediacorp dropped their subscription price? Rest assured it is not because of their charity for the subscripers in tough economic times (after all, they are a CORP, it's in the name of MediaCORP). As with any companies, they run a business and they want profits.

Let's consider the possibility that Mobtv is now seeing it's profits dropped compared to months ago. Hence the need to slash the price to attract new subscribers and retain the current subscribers.

The Good:

Video on Demand Archive

There's a nice library of dramas and variety shows currently or recently broadcast on Mediacorp Channels. For example, a quick glance at the Channel 8 section of the Mobtv website has an estimated 160 shows uploaded. That's alot of programs on just 1 channel.

This would serve the needs of viewers who want to rewatch or catch a particular show that they missed due to scheldue problem on their own timing. Let's say you want to rewatch the auditions of Singapore Idol, you could select those first few episode on Mobtv Singapore Idol archives series.

The rest of the group in the Mediacorp Package are Channel 5, Channel U and a few other local tv channels. It should be noted that Mobtv Channel 8 has the most archived shows whereas the rest have lesser such as Channel 5 which has 60 estimated archived shows. This is not surprising given that Channel 5 has minimal local productions anyway until recently.

Shows such as Mobtv Singapore Idol will probably appeal to fans of that genre.

Mobtv Gold

Nostalgic shows from decades back bring back memories of your favourite drams, actors and characters from Mediacorp. Again the biggest benefit is the pick and choose aspect as you can easily watch your favorite old drama at your own pace and not worry about missing an episode.

Catch Mobtv Sneak Previews

One of the best concept on the Mobtv SG service is allowing it's subscribers to catch unair espiodes of certain new dramas before it airs on TV. Simple and effective, enuff said, thumbs up.

Asian Channels and Mobtv Select

Nothing good to say about it because these are very poor concepts. See more below.

Free Video on Demand

It's free, and it archives USA shows from mostly Mediacorp Channel 5 for up to 4 weeks the next day after it airs on TV. Quite a good concept actually. Did i mention it's a free package ?

The Bad:

Video on Demand Archive

The shows are generally uploaded for 1 year according to a "moderator" on the Mobtv Support forum due to "license issue". What this means is if a person subscribe today to watch drama "ABC" , if he or she was really unlucky, the show may have reached the 1 year period and be gone the next day or week.

The shows are uploaded only 3 days after the inital TV broadcast according to the FAQ page of Mobtv. A minor negative point if you are frantic to catch that dramatic next espiode and you missed it on TV.

Mobtv Gold

A reference image of the Mobtv Gold section

The lack of content on this page has drew much flake from the users on the Mobtv forum. It's easy to see why. Currently there are only 10 Channel 8 dramas and 5 Channel 5 dramas (one of which is the widely crtisised and mocked series "VR Man".

So not only is the quantity lacking here, the quality of the shows selected also leave question marks. It sticks out even more as a big negative for Mobtv Gold due to the lack of shows. When you have only 15 shows, viewers rightly want all of them to be quality title.

Another clear trend is the lack of updates to this section. Some of the titles seems to have been well over a year. One example being " Seletar Robbery" which has been well over a couple of years. Surely if anybody had put their brains to it, they'll figure that people have watched that show by then and repalce it.

Checking out the Mobtv forum also bring out the lack of attention to user feedback. For example " My Buddies" is neither a popular, well known or heavily requested show yet it's has been uploaded ahead of other more highly requested shows from Mobtv subscribers (the people who pay cash monthly)

All in all, if i was a business person, i would really hope this " management" and "value" ( i used these two terms loosely) provide by Mobtv aka Mediacorp is not a proper reflection of their business operation.

Perhaps it is the perceived lack of quality and quantity here that can led to subscribers closing their Mobtv account.

Catch Mobtv Sneak Previews

Nothing bad to say about this.

Asia Channel and Mobtv Select.

Packaging the Mediacorp Telemovies as part of the Asian Channels Package feel like a cheap tactic to get Mediacorp viewers to pay for a seperate package. It is made worst by the fact that most of the shows are acted out by local Mediacorp stars and only a few has overseas actors in them.

Also content for the real Asian Channels from overseas countries such as Malaysia, Korea and China pales in comparison to what is available regularly on Cable Tv already. It just seems like an extra step for Mobtv that is unrelated to the main theme of the service.

Mobtv select at $8 plus seems a even poorer choice and it's only available via Singtel miotv so you can't access it on Mobtv Online. A quick glance at the Miotv websection for Mobtv Select will give u an idea of how laughable the concept is. I'm sure any sane person will gladly just watch everything for free on Mediacorp TV. Strictly for the obsessed or very rich and stupid.

Free Video On Demand

Only 3 shows are available at this writing and 1 is really available on next month so that make 2 shows actually. Hey, it's free though......Enuff said.

The Ugly

Finally we get to the root of the matter. Clearly it can be said that Mobtv does leave some room for improvement. One clear thing that is that Mobtv has very poor feedback system for it's subscribers. Or rather Mobtv seems happy to not hear from you. There is no phone support for Mobtv. Only email. This is unacceptable in today's environment where quality support service is expected. At one point, Mobtv was rumoured to have 100k subsribers at least. 100K X $10 = 1 million.

For any service that wants to earn 1 millions monthly from 100k of it's customers NOT TO have a phone line for communication and support is weird, it's shocking when you consider that the company is run by Mediacorp, probably the largest Media companies in Singapore period along with SPH.

For a company that is about communication and connection to people and helping the advertising partners connect with people, Mobtv sure does a pretty poor job of translating that in it's support department.

The support via forum is under staffed as it seems that there is 1 moderator (a poor chap) trying to answer the multiple questions posted in mutiple forums sections by users. Knowing the multiple- tasking culture of today's workforce, he's probably the website designer/technican as well.

That could explain the outdated content on the Mobtv website. Example, you can see USA series "Lost" as one of the main headlines Mobtv shows on the main page but clicking it will show you the following error

The Mobtv Free Video Section Error

It's also not usual to see outdated information on other sections of the website that give the impression that nobody has touch the sites in days or even weeks. The forum moderator for Mobtv seems either content to give standard answers to solutions or is simply overworked to give proper solutions to the ranges of questions on the forums. Some threads are simply ignored and left to die with no replies.

Another outdated section, if you are looking for Animetrix Package, it has been discontinued in 2008.

The one question that keep popping up seems to be when is show abc or show xyz added to Mobtv Gold? Ironically enough , this is the "Let us know what you want to watch" section of the forum. The ironic is of course, 99% of the time, the moderator is force to say "due to licensing issues, that show is never gonna be uploaed anytime soon" or "i have feedback it to the content team and we are trying to get it past the licensing issue".

At some point, you have to wonder if Mobtv is really run by Mediacorp. One could speculate again at how effective Mediacorp is at eternal running of it's own house since it has problems getting license of it's OWN SHOWS for it's OWN STREAMING Service.

Interested in this, i spoke to a friend of mine who works in the TV industry and get his views on licensing. Here's what he told me , basically when a tv program is produced, the studio usually retain all the licensing rights for broadcast and distribution. In this case, i suspect the studio would probably be.......Mediacorp? Let's say they worked with a production company to produce drama ABC....I seriously doubt Mediacorp would sign a contract that end up letting the production company have the rights to distribute and broadcasting (considering they have no TV station). So there is little chance of a small production company being paid to help Mediacorp (the big company that hired them) having the contractual rights to distribution and broadcast. So is Mobtv and Mediacorp selling us a "story"? Who knows?

Unless it was some big partner like the Media Development Authority (MDA) which Mediacorp has team with for some production. Then that could led to Mediacorp needing to clear some redtapes for the license.....except that there's another problem. The MDA or any companies that "own" the licensing rights will gladly let Mediacorp have the rights as long as Mediacorp pay a nonimal fee. Think about it, would u let this production of 5, 10, 15 years ago sit in a dark room rotting for nothing or would you let it be broadcast to audience and make a nice tidy sum from the licensing?

Only a idiot would not know that one. So what could have happen? Mobtv aka Mediacorp didn't want to pay the licensing fee! Why's that? Because it is a business and business wants to cut down costs while still getting profits. This theory is assuming Mobtv does actually need to get licensing from "outside parties" in the first place as claimed on the forums.

So the possibilities is that Mobtv simply wants to

a) cut down licensing fee costs so it denies and delay getting any new shows uploaded for Mobtv Gold and the likes.

b) cut down on labour efforts and costs for storage of too many titles and conversion to digital format for uploading.

Remember each Mobtv show has around 20 episode for a Mediacorp drama. Each episode seems to be around 500mb. Do your math and you'll see one drama = 10GB of storage. This is just for storage, and does not include the bandwidth consumed by thousands of people streaming daily.

Mobtv wants to keep a balance folks. They don't want to lose profits and they don't want to have too much expenses for labour and bandwith costs....So this could be the real reason you don't see any effort to upload any new shows on Mobtv Gold. Sure they upload new videos on for the new Mobtv shows.....bascially because they have to. If they don't , everybody will question what's the point of paying $10/$15 for nothing and end up closing their Mobtv account.

If you made it this far, you probably have an Mobtv account and here's what you should do. Email me your own feedback and experience with Mobtv and I'll publish it here to share with everybody. Do not wait, share your honest views so more people knows whether it's worth the money and what it's like to subscribe to Mobtv every month.

Email: mobtvsgfeedback@gmail.com
Subject: Mobtv Sg Review

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