More Thoughts, and Questions, on Multi-Platform Media

As I mentioned earlier, I'm trying to gather my thoughts, and some data points, before Thursday's Silverdocs panel on producing for multiple platforms. Four of my questions:

  • How will mobile video content be different from wired video?
  • What do audiences want– and how much money and time will they commit?
  • How will the act of creating for the mini-screen alter a filmmaker's approach to larger, stationary, screens?
  • How big of a role will user-generated/participatory content (such as Bus Uncle and the like) assume?

Here's where I'm looking for help:

Way back in the early days of mobile video (fall of 2005), iMedia's Roger Park laid out 4 questions, three of which still seem to be open:

  • How do marketers track the mobile TV audience?
  • Will consumers be willing to pay for content that is front loaded with sponsors?
  • Will other networks and studios jump on the mobile TV bandwagon?
  • How might the networks charge for commercial time within this mobile channel?

Informa issued a report last week projecting demand for mobile video: From Reuters:

The soccer World Cup in Germany will provide the catalyst for TV services on mobile phones to start taking off, but real growth will occur over the next five years, an industry report said on Wednesday.

Informa Telecoms & Media predicted some 210 million mobile TV subscribers worldwide by 2011, with the Asia-Pacific region leading the way with 95.1 million subscribers followed by Europe at 68.7 million.

"(By) the 2008 Olympics, we'll all be much more prepared to watch TV on our phones and by the 2010 World Cup the infrastructure will be mature and one in 13 mobile phone users worldwide will own a mobile TV handset," said David McQueen, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

McQueen goes deeper on his own site:

the soccer World Cup has provided the spark for the launch of a number of broadcast services in Europe, led by 3 in Italy and Debitel in Germany, across DVB-H and T-DMB networks respectively, which it is hoped will ignite a raft of further launches and subscriber uptake..

Informa Telecoms & Media's new released "Mobile TV: Broadcast and Mobile Multimedia" 2006 Strategic Report, handsets built with mobile-broadcast-receiver technologies are expected to find their way into 10% of handsets sales by 2011, representing an expected market of 120 million phones.…Informa Telecoms & Media expects DVB-H to take the largest share of that market…

McQueen asks some of the questions I would like to explore on Thursday;

But ultimately will anyone actually use a mobile TV service and who is it to be targeted at? There are some major issues underlying the success of mobile TV: how, when and for how long will content be consumed whilst on the move and, moreover, how much will users be willing to pay?

and reminds us of the limits of physics:

An initial cause for concern about the viability of the mobile TV service is over the length of battery life achieved on a mobile broadcast device. Trials have shown devices to have up to 4 hours continuous TV play on one battery charge, which should be enough to satiate most consumers' TV viewing in a single day. Indeed, some trials have shown an average viewing time of around 3 hours a week, well within current battery limitations.

So, what kind of programming does the average viewer want to watch during those 3 hours? For that matter, even high consumption urban nomads will "only" be able to view 4 hours at a shot. Thus, long form video is possible but unlikely.

…the success of mobile TV is also reliant on the availability of desirable, popular content to the end user which will determine, to a large extent, how fast consumers adopt the services and devices.

On DLMag, Aaron Azerad explores the alphabet soup of DVB-H, MBMS, and DMB:

A technology which is currently up at the plate for testing is DVB-H (Digital Video Broadband-Handheld), which skips by mobile networks and is broadcasted right to mobile hand-sets. Another alternative which is up for consideration is MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service), which instead of bypassing uses the mobile network to transmit television signals. Yet a third choice is also added into the factor of using DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) which would serve as a modified version of digital radio currently being used in South Korea, with Germany and Britain looking in… The United States has even jumped in offering their own solution to Mobile TV offering a broadcasted technology called MediaFlo.


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