H3G is building a strong stable of mContent, from Premiership football to Kiss FM. It needs to. Making money in the UK market will be touch and go even with the best content, many of the people who created the Orange brand, and a first-mover advantage in 3G. If its early launch plans run into trouble, H3G could still hit serious problems.
New entrant UK mobile operator H3G has licensed the rights to Emap’s magazine, TV and radio content.
UK new entrant mobile operator Hutchison 3G has signed a two year deal with Emap, one of the country’s largest publishers. H3G subscribers will be able to get content from Emap’s magazines (including FHM), its TV channels (including The Box) and its radio stations (including Kiss FM).
It looks like another strong move by H3G in the mContent space. The company has already bought the 3G streaming rights to Premiership football. It has also appointed a head of adult content last year, becoming the first UK operator officially to explore this sector, one which many expect to be highly lucrative.
But H3G needs to build strong content, even more than other mobile operators. As a new entrant in the already mature UK mobile phone market, it will have to build its customer base from scratch – and almost entirely by winning over people who currently subscribe to other operators.
H3G does have some factors in its favor. It knows something about brand building: majority shareholder Hutchison Whampoa was also the largest shareholder in Orange when it launched in the UK, and many of the management team are former Orange people. The company’s brand-building ethos is also clear from its content deals.
On the technical side, H3G aims to be the first 3G operator to launch in the UK, offering services this year while other players have delayed them until 2003. It is scheduled to receive dual-mode handsets from NEC and Motorola from August onwards (although this does not mean it will). If they arrive and work properly, this could prove highly attractive to early adopters, driving interest in the service, building revenues, and building the brand.
However, if the launch is delayed – and especially if it runs into reliability problems – the same process could work in reverse. Strong but inaccessible content will not make H3G a success, particularly if the early adopters sign up with rival providers in the meantime.