On-the-go TV, interactive apps and 4G are helping channel owners evolve their content for today's audience, argues Chris Minas
Technology never remains static for long and often moves in unexpected ways. Broadcast has gone through a variety of transformations, with satellite, cable and on-demand irrevocably altering our viewing habits. However, more recently mobile is starting to transform the face of broadcast. The on-demand model that we have become accustomed to is soon to be complimented with an "on-the-go" and "interact" model, enabled by more sophisticated mobile solutions. With the number of mobile-connected devices soon due to exceed the number of people on earth, broadcasters must respond to the changes in viewing habits in order to meet consumers' expectations of experiencing a more engaging, interactive and tailored broadcast experience.
In places lacking a television set, mobile broadcast could fill the gap. At my son's university, for example, none of the students in his "digs" had televisions, yet they all had laptops, mobile and broadband consuming content on demand. They regularly stream content on these platforms, while posting on Twitter and Facebook.
As well as introducing broadcast on-the-go, mobile devices will compliment existing ways of viewing.
The introduction of this model is also aiding the ailing newspaper industry to boost readership from its rapidly evolving audience. News International, for example, has just won the rights to stream highlights from Premier League football matches, which will make its website a formidable competitor in the year ahead.
As well as new content providers exploiting mobile, the ability of second screen companion devices, when used in conjunction with TV broadcasting, enables people to not only watch shows on their television set while sharing comments on their mobile, but are now able to also interact with the broadcast and advertising content.
A good example is the well-established music-recognition app Shazam, which has launched a new TV service that is not just a simple add-on to the voice and data functionality, but comes with new audio fingerprinting technology that recognises the audio stream. This triggers an interactive experience challenging the way the present markets connect to consumers. Users tag TV shows via their mobile, much like they have already been doing with songs, but they also gain access to information on the cast, competitions, trivia, Twitter-feeds and much more through interaction. In essence, viewing has become a far more holistic experience and allows users to interact with and personalise the content.
Coupled with the launch of 4G, streaming broadcast on mobiles will produce higher quality content, a more engaging experience and more immersive viewing experience. This is one of the most significant changes in the broadcast experience since the introduction of colour TV.
Radio broadcast is progressing in a similar way by allowing users to personalise their listening experience. Spotify recently added radio to its existing mobile app, which now includes the ability to create stations based around an artist, album or playlist, with additional songs being chosen that are similar to the ones that the user has selected. No doubt many of the other radio broadcast stations will follow suit and launch their services as mobile web or app solutions in order to cater for the next generation of radio audiences who will expect a mobile experience.
Although not yet a clearly defined media, mobile TV is at the forefront of the changing broadcast landscape. Last summer marked the launch of the Dyle TV app in the US, the brainchild of Mobile Content Venture (MCV), a conglomerate made up of about a dozen of the world's biggest broadcasting groups, including Fox, NBC and Telemundo. The app enables users to stream TV from participating channels directly to their mobile devicesbut its coverage abilities are limited and more channels need to participate if they are to succeed, by offering users more flexibility. It also lacks a DVR feature to allow users to rewind, pause and record the shows they are watching, a crucial part of watching TV wherever and whenever. However, this is only the beginning and the development of new devices reflects this.
The Samsung Galaxy Beam, launched last July, takes mobile broadcast beyond a small, handheld screen. This highlights the potential that mobile broadcast has to change the market for mobile services. The product is packed with a 15 lumens projector, allowing the user to watch anything on any surface and to share the viewing experience with those around them.
Mobile is rapidly expanding the different types of content that people are able to engage with; new apps and devices are adding greater capabilities in how broadcast can be accessed. In other words, the availability of broadcast is changing, as well as our viewing habits. Channel owners are increasingly looking for new and more diverse distribution platforms in order to maximise reach in a more fragmented media landscape. The mobile industry is providing the platform and innovative technologies to help channel owners utilise their content in new ways and reach out to today's audience. Mobile is breaking traditional barriers to consumption of content and driving broadcast forwards.
There is no doubt about it; broadcast on mobile is about to take off and channel owners and content owners alike are facing the exciting challenge of racing to be first. However, the question is not about the technology's availability to make this possible, but how the services should be designed and how they will be used. Ultimately, the service providers need to ensure they provide the best content and an engaging experience – all on the target audience's platform of choice. This will ensure their business is set and prepared to reach the next generation of consumer within the next five to ten years.
Via Virginie Colnel