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Is Mobile the Future of TV?

A new com­pan­ion app aimed at enhanc­ing the view­ing expe­ri­ence has entered the mobile mar­ket­place, but will Zee­box suc­ceed in an are­na where many execs are still mak­ing their minds up about the ben­e­fits of sec­ond screen? 1.5 mil­lion down­loads and 300,000 – 400,000 unique views per month, along with an eight-dig­it invest­ment from BskyB in the UK says it will.

The 91 mil­lion smart­phone users in the US rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket for any com­pa­ny look­ing at spon­sor­ing mobile TV as a viable way to ven­ture onto the con­sumer land­scape. How­ev­er until now, broad­cast­ers, pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies and mobile adver­tis­ing agen­cies have kept mobile TV at arm’s length, even though it’s long-been known that view­ers are will­ing to engage with TV shows using their device and most use their phone while watch­ing their favorite shows. This must mean mobile TV is the next log­i­cal step, right?

Hel­lo Zeebox 

Zee­box is due for release in the US immi­nent­ly and there is already a ‘sig­nif­i­cant’ US part­ner­ship in the bag, as well as an upgrade fea­tur­ing friends’ view­ing habits and pro­gramme reminders that will put Zee­box right up there with Intonow, Yahoo’s TV app.

Indus­try experts feel the launch of Zee­box will speed up advance­ment of mobile TV. It’s a well-known fact that view­ers enjoy the inter­ac­tion that com­pan­ion apps can offer in the shape of vot­ing, real-time dis­cus­sions and game show par­tic­i­pa­tion. Zee­box has won a lot of fans with its neat pack­age of social dis­cus­sion, chan­nel-chang­ing EPG, e‑commerce links and a HTML frame­work, which allows broad­cast­ers to cre­ate in-app view­er engage­ment mod­ules. How­ev­er these are just accom­pa­ni­ments to the main dish, which is still con­tent devel­oped pure­ly for the lin­ear screen.

TV Chip Mar­ket Set to Increase

Siano Mobile Sil­i­con Ltd announced their inten­tion to move into the US at the end of last year. Israeli out­fit Siano make TV chips for mobile devices and while the glob­al mar­ket stood at around 99 mil­lion units when the announce­ment was made, it’s pre­dict­ed it will expand rapid­ly – to just under 160 mil­lion by 2015. This clear­ly means they see poten­tial in mobile TV.

Those in the know sug­gest that where Zee­box leads, mobile TV will sure­ly fol­low (good news for Siano) as the next log­i­cal step when users become more famil­iar with access­ing TV con­tent using their device.

”It improves (view­ers’) enjoy­ment of the TV-view­ing expe­ri­ence,” stat­ed Neil Mortensen, research direc­tor of the UK TV umbrel­la and tra­di­tion­al-adver­tis­ing cham­pi­on Thinkbox.  “A lot of peo­ple now say they won’t view the show unless they can inter­act with it. The fact you are mul­ti-screen and con­nect­ed is dri­ving more peo­ple to watch (TV).”

The Exist­ing Offer… 

Just over three years ago NBC entered the fray with their mobile site that allows users to access full episodes of pop­u­lar shows on their smart­phones, while the BBC’s iPlay­er has been avail­able for some time and the Cor­po­ra­tion has just announced that a revised Android ver­sion of the app will fea­ture the BBC’s own Media Play­er technology.

How­ev­er this is not true ‘mobile’ TV, this is watch­ing streamed con­tent. Using your smart­phone as a TV, as a sig­nal receiv­er, can be done, but it will cost mon­ey and it’s pre­dict­ed this will come from mobile adver­tis­ing spend.

Julia Otter­burn Hall dig­i­tal direc­tor of UK inde­pen­dent TV pro­duc­er Shed Media said she believes addi­tion­al pro­duc­tion costs and own­er­ship issues are two poten­tial prob­lems with sec­ond-screen advance­ment but that more resources and more lawyers could get things on track. If mobile phone adver­tis­ers and exist­ing TV adver­tis­ers can be con­vinced to tru­ly embrace dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy and that sec­ond-screen has a future, their mon­ey could fund a tele­vi­su­al revolution.

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