Monthly Archives: January 2008

Q&A with Kim Senn, VP Product, Airborne Entertainment

What is Airborne best known for in the mobile space?

Airborne was one of the early entrants into the mobile marketplace. The company has partnered with prominent brands to bring those brands to mobile. In the early days, that included Disney and HBO. Today our portfolio includes Maxim, Family Guy, NHL Mobile, and Speed Channel. We work with them to be able to take their brands and properties and bring them into the mobile space. It’s important that we develop the right product mix for the brand we’re working with.

We span all mobile product lines. We do graphics and ringtones and ringback tones, WAP applications, mobile games and applications, SMS and video and we’re really expanding to include some of the emerging product lines as well.

What is your most successful product?

The biggest revenue generator over the last couple of years has been wallpaper. Wallpapers are still huge.

What do you see as the up and coming revenue earner?

We’re starting to move into opportunities in WAP advertising. We do some WAP sites for our brand, for Maxim and the NHL. I think there’ll be a lot of growth potential for WAP advertising. Another growth area for us is mobile promotions. We’re seeing some great success in that area. We just did one with Taco Bell in Canada.

What is your involvement in producing original video content for the mobile platform?

We were really fortunate to work with Verizon and Sprint early on for video. Currently we are managing the programming of three channels for Verizon V Cast: the Maxim channel MaximToGo, the NHL channel and a comedy channel just rebranded Vidiotic.

What does it mean to manage a channel?

We source out the content. We handle working with partners on formatting the content or we do some formatting ourselves. Making sure the content is refreshed and available for consumers. So we handle it from start to finish.

We also do some originally produced content as well, for the Vidiotic channel. Our approach to that channel has been to be a little more edgy and underground in the kind of content we’re programming. Because we know we’re going up against the Comedy Centrals, which have access to marquee names and bigger budgets. Our approach is a little bit more on the viral side, closer in spirit to what we might see on YouTube or Heavy. It’s more the indy approach to comedy programming.

What about the 3rd party content?

We find content that is already produced but doesn’t have a distribution avenue for mobile for North America. We have companies that approach us as well as we’re out there scouring the web.

We’re looking for content across the board. We have two categories: Too Stupid for TV and Eyeball Glue. Those are short-form sketch comedy. But we’re branching out into original productions, where we act as Executive Producers and help fund the project. Two in particular are Bitchin’ Kitchen, which is a very edgy comedy cooking show. The clips are averaging between one and two minutes. Then Mobile Wingman is another property we’re excited about. It’s a made-for-mobile content project with a guy who gives dating and life advice to clueless people. Those are also one to two minutes. We generally do short easily digestible clips.

Our approach has been to grab somebody quick and pull them in. Two of the acronyms we use to describe our video strategy are WTF (what the fuck) and LOL (laugh out loud). That’s the kind of content we’re looking for. Things a little more offbeat, a little edgier than you’d find in traditional comedy programming, things that push the boundaries.

What kinds of production companies do you work with? Are they traditional production companies?

Most of the companies do web programming. Not TV production companies; it’s difficult to take existing broadcast content and use it for the mobile screen. It really needs to be mobile specific. It’s difficult to repurpose existing content.


When you take something designed for a much bigger screen and then reduce it down to mobile’s 200×200 resolution, you won’t see anything. You’ll see tiny figures. Also, the viewer’s attention span is much shorter. You need to get someone’s attention quickly and get in and get out.

Do you think video is going to be a bigger part of your mix going forward?

We are definitely broadening the programming. We’re trying to bring more to the table for the carriers so that the content is really designed for mobile, fresh and innovative and high quality. Anyone can do a quick home video clip with their phone and upload it to YouTube. We want to get the same feel but with quality content.

For Maxim we’re working closely with the brand. They’re providing a lot of content and we’re doing a little bit of comedy content in with the mix.

Bitchen Kitchen isn’t launched yet. We’re wrapping up the content with the other producers and talent and we’re acting as executive producers. They’ve sourced the talent. The person starring in it has done a lot of the writing. It’s being produced in Montreal.

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Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content, Devices

Q&A with Mark Raudonis, VP of Post Production, Bunim/Murray Productions

What prompted the decision to produce content for the mobile platform?

Simple. The networks asked us to do it. It has gotten to the point where any show currently on a broadcast network also has an extensive presence on the web, cell phones or VOD. Delivery requirements now specify material designated for alternate media.

What networks are you working with? Is it just MTV?

Actually it’s everyone: MTV, Spike, Lifetime, Oxygen, E! etc. They all are extremely focused on how important the “alternative platforms” have become.

Do you repurpose existing content or produce original content for the mobile platform?

Both. Some of the material is “clip oriented” highlights from that week’s episode, or in some cases the entire episode. Usually, we’re asked to create something unique that will attract attention and give consumers a reason to seek out this material. Typically, we will include bloopers, unseen footage in the form of rough cuts or “alternate scenes.” Occasionally we will provide “deeper background” material about cast members that is only available on the web. For example, with “The Real World,” interested viewers can log on to and find additional interviews with cast members from the initial casting process.

How many titles do you have for the mobile platform?

We currently have six shows in post/on the air: Real World 18 (Denver), Challenge 14, Simple Life 5, Bad Girls 1, Road Rules (Viewer’s Revenge), Murder (Spike).

All of these shows require some kind of mobile presence. It can be as simple as a trailer promoting the next season or as elaborate as specific content created just for these platforms. Typically, each show will have anywhere from 3 to10 minutes of original content exclusively dedicated to the mobile platform.

What works – and what doesn’t work – on this platform?

Works: Short, “talking head” informational or funny bits.

Doesn’t work: Long, visually driven or “audio driven” stories with subtle character development. Most people are viewing this material in less than optimal circumstances with a high distraction quotient. Subtlety in this format gets lost.

Do you shoot in HD? How important is it to capture material in the highest possible resolution, if it’s only going to be reduced to a tiny screen?

No, we do not originate in HD yet. That’s changing by the day due to network requirements, so my answer tomorrow may be different. Currently, however, we originate in SD, typically using Panasonic DVCPro 50. Because our material is usually derived from material intended for broadcast, our production standards are already relatively high. If we were creating something solely for the cellphone market, I doubt that we would go above DV quality.

How are you distributing this content?

Currently we deliver to the networks and they take responsibility for distribution.

What kind of response are you getting?

At this phase of the game, the response is positive, but I don’t think anyone has figured out how to make money in the cell phone market. VOD and iTunes has been very good, and that’s a measurable number. Cellphones are another story. What does it take to get someone to pay to watch something on his or her cellphone? I pay for the service because I want to see how our work looks in all media. I don’t know that I would pay otherwise. On the other hand, if I lived somewhere else and commuted on a train, or bus, or ferry, I’d probably welcome the service.

What are you learning from these initial productions? How are you tweaking the model of producing content for the mobile platform?

We’re learning that fast cutting just doesn’t work well in this format. Frequently, frame rates received are less than full speed and quick cutting just doesn’t hold up. Since the screen is so tiny, a close-up is better than a wide shot. Obvious is better than subtle. GRFX should be extremely simple (black and white is good!)

Currently, most business models for this market (cellphones) are promotional more than anything else. Music rights and clearances become a big issue if you haven’t considered this issue in advance. Having to go back and renegotiate rights or replace cues can be expensive. It’s best to address it up front and produce content with “ALL MEDIA” in mind. Finally, the definition of “all media” changes everyday. Make sure that whatever format you’re mastering to can be repurposed for future outlets.

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Filed under Content, Monetizing Mobile