Lost and Desperate Housewives are just the beginning. Disney ABC Television is working to deliver more video content to iPods. Information Week reports Disney expects its mobile video subscriber business to reach 14 million in 2009, up from about 200,000 today. But important issues remain to be solved to allow iPod video content taking off. The first regards intellectual property rights. Disney owns Lost and Desperate Housewives from from beginning to end of production so they have no problem negotiating with distributors. But what happens when the content is sold outside the US where Disney sells licences to air such tv-series?
According to Fox, “the prop master on drama 24 got more than 50,000 calls on his cell phone after his number appeared on-screen in the Jan. 17 episode of the show”. As Emily on Picturephoning brilliantly points out: “The news of the cell phone “snafu” comes a day after a NATPE seminar in Las Vegas on the marriage of cell phones and video content. Coincidence? Your call.”
2005 has started since less than two weeks and I’m glad to find out we already have a buzz word that will take us through the (wireless) year: “mobile video”. Sorry about the sarcastic approach to the issue, but I need to balance the fact someone out there is taking the fact too seriously. I liked Mike Masnick writing on Techdirt “Exactly What We Don’t Need: Full Length Movies On Mobile Phones“, commenting Vodafone Germany recent offer of full time movies over 3G connections. A full length movie streamed to a tiny little screen doesn’t make much sense. It’s a waste of time and money both for users and carriers. I must say I’m not a big fan of mobile video and I don’t have an handset that supports this content, but I miss the point of mixing medium and messages. I wonder how many mobile users currently have 90 or more minutes to spend watching a movie on their phone screen. Mobile video it’s ok for someone wants to take a break and relax with a music video or get updated with some video news. But like in Vodafone’s case the time requirements are way high (and you also need to remember the time when the broadcasting starts). I don’t want to sound too academic, but remember McLuhan saying the medium is the message. Mobile phones were invented to work as “phones” to be used while on the move. Now they have evolved into multi-purpose devices (and this is great for many of us, that otherwise would be probably unemployed but I believe the next evolution step has to be integration rather than substitution. A movie has been created to be featured on a wide cinema screen, with dolby surround sound etc… you can’t constrain it to a mobile phone screen. conVISUAL has had a similar idea, but limiting the offer to the movies’ key scenes. In my opinion, this makes no sense either, also because of the limited choice films they offer (“American Pie”, “Dumb And Dumber”, “Terminator 2″ and “Jurassic Park” don’t exactly have the memorable scenes I would like to watch again on my phone). A successful mobile business idea comes from considerations of the mobile phone characteristics, not from an analysis of already available content. That’s why “mobisodes” do make sense and full length movies don’t; SMS proved to be the killer application while MMS are facing a slow adoption. First ask yourself when, why and by whom are mobile phones used and then develop and market your content. Who are current 3G users? Business people who don’t have 90 minutes time to watch a movie or teenagers fascinated by the Big Brother? I know the market requires companies to rush, but sometimes it’s better to slow down and think before acting. Wasting money it’s pity, and mobile video does have a bright future.
Sky Sports and mobile operator 3 have signed a video content partnership deal that will allow subscribers to watch sport bulletins directly from their cellular phone. The news is reported by The Register which also comments that the deal is an attempt to revitalise 3′s football content channel which isn’t performing very well at the moment.
The 3G Newsroom dedicates an article today to mobile video services in Europe. They report the results of a recent report by The Yankee Group, If you read the title of the article you won’t probably believe mobile video is a big deal at the moment not it will become it in the next year. But if you spend some time reading through the article you’ll find the predictions actually talk about mobile video services during the next two to three years (I would rather say three to four). In 2007 the mobile video market in Western Europe will be worth almost �4 billion, less than 3 percent of all service revenue. If you watch Tv ads at the moment in Italy you might have the impression we are living in a mobile video country. This is totally wrong. I had the chance to talk to Dario Betti, analyst at Ovum recently, and he confirmed my perception: mobile video isn’t here yet. No matter if you’re a user or a marketer: just don’t believe what advertising in telling you
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