The End of the Road for FLO TV (Approaches)

After months of speculation and rumor, Qualcomm has officially announced their intentions to draw down the FLO TV service… assuming a buyer can’t be found:

While this process continues, we are suspending our direct to consumer sales of new devices. We anticipate we will maintain the network so that current direct to consumer subscribers will continue to receive FLO programming into Spring 2011. Service provided to handsets purchased through wireless operators is unaffected at this time. In the event of a discontinuance of service, FLO TV will make appropriate refunds, the details of which will be communicated prior to discontinuation.

Like way too many other services, I’m a paying FLO TV subscriber – thanks to hardware provided by TSS Radio. And while I quite like the HTC-produced device and television content is mostly decent, I never figured MediaFLO as long for this world. There’s a very small number of folks willing to buy dedicated hardware in addition to taking on yet another monthly subscription (~$16/mo).

FLO TV utilizes cellular frequencies to transmit video, including a small amount of simulcast television programming – which is where I think they add value over the likes of say Hulu Plus (above left) or Netflix on iOS over 3G. But leasing the spectrum on top of that content licensing can’t be cheap and is probably what sunk this venture. Fortunately, similar content, like CNN and ESPN, is available via MobiTV’s iOS app or SprintTV (which IS Mobi, above right) without requiring dedicated hardware. Granted, the resolution and quality are inferior to the very nice FLO TV Personal Television broadcasts. But it’s much more accessible.

Now that I’ve blogged these few photos of FLO TV, and in lights of Qualcomm ceasing retail sales, I’ll cancel service knowing future firmware updates and enhancements are out of the question at this point. But I hear Sprint may have a phone with a low-power ATSC tuner that I need to check out next…

Click to enlarge:

7 thoughts on “The End of the Road for FLO TV (Approaches)”

  1. The problem with FloTV is that it’s not something people need, and I don’t know of any friends/relatives that even know what it is. When I explain it to them they ask “Why? I’ve got TV/DVR/TiVo at home..”

  2. I had FloTV for a while, but after having Tivo at home since ’99, I decided that without the ability to schedule recordings and play them back at my convenience, the service wasn’t worthwhile. More often than not, there was nothing on of interest to me. But if I had the ability to record something that was on last night…

  3. I think it was Engadget that mentioned a few days ago the impending demise of FloTV… which was why I was caught offguard to see the product get a healthy chunk of space in Best Buy’s weekly ad today. I know circulars are printed well in advance, but that’s pretty unfortunate timing… especially for the handful of people who might think “Hey! I could use that!”

  4. Jeff, funny you should mention DVR capabilities. Before the FLO situation was so grim, I was briefed by a Qualcomm employee who very specifically said DVR functionality was on the roadmap. It actually sounded like the existing “Personal Television” hardware I was casually reviewing was targeted. Doubt we’ll ever see that software update now…

    Bob, yeah bad timing. Although I do give Qualcomm credit, they spared no expense when it cames to advertising and retail relationships. The market is just too small for this type of solution. (When I wrote the post, I tried to link to the official product page on FLO or Amazon and both had been pulled.)


  6. I do lots of nite alone work and really enjoyed my
    Flo tv on my cell phone. Great time killer. It beats dragging around a computer or DVD player. Plus I
    watched a bunch of my favorite teams games on
    FLO. I’m sad too. Plus you didn’t have to find a y-fi
    signal as it was a stand alone. I think it’s just another
    way for a certain phone company to push it’s tv product.
    That stinks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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