One of the other events taking place today is the iHollywood Mobile Bootcamp. This program is a product of partnerships that have become a growing part of The Cable Show. iHollywood Forum, Inc. produces conferences and forums about the cutting-edge in digital and wireless entertainment throughout the year. If you take a look at the links in the column to your right, you can see all of the various partners that are part of the Show, making the content here even more diverse.
Mobile phones are a new phenomenon at the Show and in the cable industry, but they’re becoming increasingly important. For operators, the next step beyond the triple play is selling mobile services. (Is that the quadruple play or a home run? I don’t know my baseball metaphors all that well.) For programmers, it’s all about getting their content out on as many platforms as possible, taking the same program and getting it to people in whatever format they want, wherever they are. In the cable industry, we often speak of offering consumers choice, convenience and control; mobile content certainly is the ultimate in convenience.
This morning’s keynote featured TelevisionWeek’s Daisy Whitney interviewing Clint Stinchcomb, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Emerging Networks, Discovery Communications. He brought some clips of Discovery’s mobile content. As he explained, when the programs are being produced, they plan out the mobile content that needs to be created along with the standard program. For example, from The Deadliest Catch, the popular program about Alaskan crab fisherman, there was video that explained the question many viewers have: What else do they catch? The video showed them hauling in an octopus, leeches and starfish, all of which is then thrown back in the water.
While all content can be repurposed for mobile, Stinchcomb explained they like to keep some content exclusive to mobile. Since the heaviest users of mobile devices skew younger, the content also is targeted for younger viewers. But older content can be repurposed as well, such as adding new narration to tell history or science stories for a younger audience.
Currently, the major sources of revenue for programmers come in the form of subscription fee and advertising revenue, but commerce is anticipated to develop soon, such as watching a travel program and then purchasing a ticket to that destination. Stinchcomb said programmers will have a difficult time breaking through the clutter in the mobile environment, just as in all parts of today’s vast media landscape, but described Discovery as being well-positioned, since it owns much of its content and has a strong brand name.
He also described four key challenges that need to be addressed for the mobile content business:
- Battery life for mobile devices needs to be improved
- Image quality will hopefully improve out over time
- Pricing and packaging models are a little complex right now
- Access time, whether downloading content or changing channels for streaming video, needs to be fast
He also revealed two interesting bits of trivia:
- On his plane ride out this morning, he sat next to Vegas legend Wayne Newton.
- There is a research term for early adopters: “sexy geeks”