By Tom Weiss, CEO TV Genius.
Over the last ten years, mobile devices have come from nowhere to being a ubiquitous part of modern life: many European countries now have more mobile phones than citizens and the evolution from talk, to text, to the mobile internet is now an established part of many people’s lives.
The most successful categories on mobile are social applications, entertainment, videos and information services. TV services fall squarely into the middle of these categories providing a service on mobile devices that is both popular and relevant for many mobile-phone users.
However, mobile TV guides have historically done little more than duplicate the functionality of a TV listings magazine on the mobile phone, with little added value to the business, and disappointing revenues.
It has not been until the last few years that a new generation of mobile TV guides have emerged with rich functionality and direct integration with content services that has driven a revival in the sector.
So, how do we ensure that new functionality can best be delivered in services that drive user loyalty, increase usage and enhance revenues for the service provider?
Most businesses launch a mobile TV guide as an additional revenue stream, funded by advertising on the site or by the sale of additional items around the TV guide, or increasingly by the sale of a downloadable application. Mobile TV guides aren’t easy to implement however and providers must get the balance right.
Key to the success of a Mobile TV Guide is helping the user find shows that they are interested in watching and then transferring them through to watch them directly, or programming a recording on their PVR back home.
Our research has shown that more than half of people who use a service are viewing shows that are on within the next two hours of their search. The majority of the remaining visits are for shows on within the next two days.
So, firstly provide access to shows that are available to watch now and enable them to find out when a specific show is on. Secondly, mobile phones are all about personalisation, that’s their key USP. So, offer recommendations based on the user’s known preferences. This can be implemented through basic ratings systems or a favourite shows list.
In either approach, the user should be presented with a list of on demand content that matches their preferences and a set of recommendations for other content that they might be interested in.
Why bother with all this effort? Where is the return?
There is a huge demand for mobile applications. Mobile TV is a huge growth area and that’s why we have been working with big brands like AOL and BskyB to provide a mobile application as part of their TV guide service. The real money in mobile TV guides is in what the user can do once they have found a show.
Remote recording is the first killer application: with a PVR and a mobile phone users should be able to find the show on their mobile phone and then remotely programme their PVR to record it at home. No need to rush home or call to ensure that the recorder is set for a programme you don’t want to miss.
The second killer application is watching TV shows directly on the phone. With mobile video becoming more prevalent, and especially catch up services, people can now search for a show that they missed last night and watch it on their mobile phone on the way into the office in the morning.
The key to success is in choosing the right Content Discovery Platform (CDP). The foundation for developing mobile TV guides. Get this right and you’ll maximises user take-up and revenues without the overhead of having to build a new application from scratch for each different device.
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