The success of mobile TV largely depends on whether people will change their viewing behaviour. As home viewing becomes more like cinema, will it highlight the weaker experience of TV on your mobile? We have just about come to terms with watching movies and videos on our iPods but a problem arises when you watch a night scene. Small screens need plenty of light and colour to really make an impact, so potentially only certain shows will work on these platforms.
Aside from the consumer experience we have the challenge of technology – handset size, operating platforms, battery, bandwidth, memory and cost. The Virgin and BT Movio proposition looks interesting with free streaming from the BBC and other major broadcasters to follow, but it will be somewhat limited given you can only get it on one handset and contract. Channel 4 has taken an interesting approach with its "made for mobile TV". If there is one thing we have learned so far it’s that you cannot just stick "made for TV" content on a mobile phone. Most mobile content is consumed in short bursts of around two minutes. Whether this is a result of cost or desire is yet to be seen. With flat-rate charging around the corner we will soon find out.
For potential advertisers we have to consider the mindset of our viewers. If people are on the go we need to cater for that with short, informative, useful or entertaining ads. If they are only watching two minutes of content then we can’t use a 30 second ad. Importantly we have to consider measurement and value; right now there is no real response mechanism so it will be hard to evaluate the activity. Simply using it to add reach or frequency is not good enough in the digital world.
One thing is for sure, we have a long period of fragmentation in store as technology and different business models get piloted. As with mobile in general, mobile TV will struggle to deliver any real scale until we have more consistency and standardisation within this space.
Jo Lyall, managing partner, MindShare Interaction