Category Archives: Content

Content for mobile devices including made-for-mobile series, repurposed content and broadband video.

Networks/Broadcasters Look at Mobile Television

At the Future of Television in Hollywood a few days ago, a high-level panel took a look at the opportunities and challenges facing the television industry. Moderated by Bill Sanders, president, Pervasive Media, panelists included Tim Connolly, vp, mobile distribution, Disney/ABC/ESPN Media Networks; Kraig Baker, partner, David Wright Tremaine LLP; Jim Eadie, vp,

Bill Sanders moderates mobile TV panel

Bill Sanders moderates mobile TV panel

digital distribution, MTV Networks; John Lawson, evp, ION Media Networks;Steve Bradbury, vp, business affairs, GoTV Networks; and Jonathan Barzilay, svp, programming and advertising, MediaFLO USA.

Sanders started off by polling the audience on how many watched video on their mobile phone–streaming or downloading–or a weekly basis. As is typical for these casual polls, the answer was…almost no one. But Sanders wasn’t discouraged. “We need to move beyond it being a ‘gee whiz’ thing to where it’s a business,” he said. He asked every panelist to describe some development they’ve seen in the last year that has changed the game…or will change the game in the next 6 to 12 months.

Steve Bradbury, GoTV: I think when you go beyond the iPhone and start talking about the Android that’s come out of the box strong and will have a proliferation, that’s interesting. LG will do a store, Blackberry and Palm will have a store. The whole idea of carriers no longer being that central focus [is a game changer]. Handset mfrs trying to take back control of content is a coming trend.

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Fast & Furious: The 3D iPhone App

You’ve seen the bus ads…now check out the free iPhone app for Fast & Furious, which opens April 3. Mobilized TV had a chance to speak with Tyler Murray, director of emerging media at The Visionaire Group which created the mobile strategy for4 the movie.

Tell me about The Visionaire Group – what is it?

The Visionaire Group is a creative solutions agency for digital projects. The bulk of the work is done direct-to-client and mainly directly to the motion picture studios. One division does websites, another does display ads, and the third is emerging media group, which includes Facebook apps, widgets,and mobile capabilities.

For Fast & Furious, we worked directly with Universal. Our web group created the official website and we did a really cool desktop widget the user could download. It looks like a GPS, with lots of interactivity.

What about the mobile application?

We did the iPhone web destination. The reason Universal wanted to do something for mobile is that everything we did on the web is supported by Flash, which is supported on most mobile phones. So they wanted to do something specific to the iPhone [which doesn’t support Flash]. Another company had done some basic mobile web destinations for them. They came to us to take advantage of the iPhone. Our goal was to create something that had never been done before as a web-destination and use the features specific to the iPhone.Hollywood is about what’s cool. That’s what drives the marketing. We were trying to create a really cool experience.

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Mozes Kicks Up Brand Awareness at SXSW

If you’re creating mobile content, you’re marketing it. At SXSW, image001 Mozes‘ pics-to-screen technology took center stage at event producer/promoter C3 Presents’ 10th Annual Late Night bash, sponsored by Playboy. Pics-to-screen technology enables guests to send mobile photos to the venue’s display screen. MobilizedTV had the chance to speak to Greg Estes, vp of marketing at Mozes who talked about the ABCs of mobile marketing in confusing times.

Mobile marketing seems to have as many meanings as the people using the term. What’s the confusion here?

greg_estesThat’s true. If you type “mobile marketing” into Google, what will come up is everything from an ad agency that doesn’t have any technology all the way to Verizon and everyone in between. It’s helpful to draw ‘coarse grain segmentation’ of the marketplace. One is mobile ad networks. That’s basically doing advertising; people will sell inventory and space to take it into mobile. A second is building mobile websites, which helps people to take online properties and bring them into the mobile world. The third is around online direct marketing, or the mobile equivalent of direct marketing. That’s the category that Mozes is in. Some people call it CRM, or customer relationship management, but that means a lot of different things so I try to stay away from that term. It is about a customer community and having an engagement with them, and we do that for sure. There’s also a fourth category, which is mobile commerce or m-commerce. That’s taking your electronic storefront and bringing it into the mobile realm.

Can you describe what Mozes does?

We’re about being a platform for marketers to be able to send their message out to a community. We would further segment that in three ways. Usually most of our customers will do one of these three things: They do marketing when they don’t have a mobile list. The whole thing about mobile is it’s all about giving permission. Some people will run a mobile campaign or promotion or contest, to get people to interact with them, but not to build a list and build on-going engagement.

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Showtime’s Emmy Campaign Goes Mobile

Beginning this April, voting members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) will enjoy the exclusive ability to view full seasons of Showtime’s original series on their iPhones and iPodTouch devices. This is an industry first; the application developed and implemented by Transpera, a mobile video delivery and advertising network that has worked with Showtime on other projects. The password-protected application will allow voters to stream fullshowtime_4cl episodes directly to their handheld devices.Showtime also launched its password-protected website, developed with online video platform Brightcove, allowing voters to mark their ballots online.

Original Showtime series includes United States of Tara, Weeds, Dexter, The Tudors, Californication, Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union, Brotherhood, This American Life, Penn & Teller: BULLSHIT! and The L Word.

“This year, by providing viewing access via iPhones and iPodTouch devices, Showtime continues to offer TV Academy members even more convenient opportunities to enjoy and consider SHOWTIME original programming,” said Richard Licata, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications for SHOWTIME

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MOFILM for More Mobile Content

If you’re interested in mobile content, you need to know about MOFILM,which, according to its website, “celebrates the intersection of art, commerce and technology in the fast evolving sector of mobile entertainment,” and also distributes independent film content to mobile operators and content service providers around the world. MOFILM just debuted its first film festival on February 18th and 19th, 2009 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in collaboration with the Mobile World Congress and sponsored by Chevrolet, Gigafone and Accenture. Mobile film festivals are an essential way of moving mobile content forward, exploring formats for mobile content, celebrating creatives who achieve success in the arena, and developing the aesthetics particular to the format.

For the first MOFILM Film Festival, participants submitted films of five minutes or less. A panel of leading experts selected the short list of five films, and the audience then voted for the winner with their cell phones. Winners were: Best Comedy (Frank Chindamo for English as a Second Language), Best Drama (Tor Kristoffersen for Enough), Best Documentary (The Science of Attraction by Claveski), Best Science Fiction (Star Chicks by Jay & Angela Lee) and Best Animation (Pushkin by Trevor Hardy). The overall winner was a close contest but in the end Frank Chindamo won the Chevrolet Cruse. [MobilizedTV will have an interview/story with Frank Chindamo early next week, so stay tuned.]

MobilizedTV had a chance to interview the MOFILM co-founder Ralph Cochrane, a pioneer of content for mobile and online services.

When was MOFILM founded and how has its mission evolved?

It started two years ago in 2007, the result of a dinner conversation in Chicago between the Sundance Institute and the GSM Association. The conversation went along the lines that the Sundance Institute is tasked with showcasing emerging filmmakers, they have a huge catalog and a number of submissions every year in the short film category. Two years ago, we had a huge issue of needing short, punchy clips for mobile. We asked the question, would it work on mobile? So we created a test at Barcelona. We took five leading filmmakers that Sundance recommended including Dayton & Ferris, Justin Lin (who directed Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift); Corey McAbee (the actor in American Astronaut); and the writer/director Jody Hill, now working with Seth Rogen and Maria Maggenti. That’s how we started. I was brought in because I was the ‘expert’ who knew how to deliver film to the phone. For us, it was a marketing project: trying something out in the Sundance lab style. The reaction was so positive we thought, maybe something is here.

What changes/evolution have you seen in mobile content over the years?

There are lots of changes. The biggest one is that compared to two years ago when people asked, Is this a good idea? We don’t even get asked that question now, because of the iPhone, as well as other phones from LG and others. The device size is no longer a problem, no longer an issue. The networks are much better, so you now can transmit content in that way.

There are ways of monetizing it. Look at the iPhone. You can actually make money off of content. It’s still developing; iPhone is the tip of the iceberg. People are much more aware of mobile also: there are 4 billion mobile phones in the world. It’s not just about content-either. If you can do something people want to share virally, like games or content, people are actually using it. So a lot has changed in two years.

Initially everyone thought mobile content had to be snack-sized in terms of length. Is that still true? Or do you see long-form gaining traction?

I think if you look at what Corey McAbee is doing with Stingray Sam, you can see he’s created content of 10 minutes in length, episodes, and that’s a format that’s becoming more popular. There has been some research done by Nokia to show the average viewing length for mobile TV, which is basically broadcast TV, is about 22 minutes. That’s the length of a 30-minute TV serial. You also have to bear in mind how it’s being paid for. It’s very similar to broadcast TV. There are advertisements, brought-to-you-by sponsorship preroll. It’s different than buying content on iTunes. But the technology and viewing shows that people will watch a reasonable length. People also side-load movies, but that’s probably a step too far for the market around the world.

What was it about English as a Second Language that made it a winner in the comedy category?

We had a review panel made up of the community, the people who create from around the world, so it wasn’t just English- speaking. We had people from Brazil and China. I think a couple of things about this entry really worked: it’s shot very well for mobile, it’s close-up, and it’s a topic–men and women interacting–that you can relate to . Oh, and it’s funny. I was slightly surprised, because I thought animation might win since it has less spoken dialog, and we had animation with no dialog at all. Overall, English as a Second Language won pretty narrowly over the animation genre because it wa a funny, well written script.

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How to Make Money with Mobile Erotica

It helps to start off with a solid background in publishing. Holly Schmidt, co-founder of Ravenous Romance, a publisher of erotica aimed at women and Ravenous Books_Blackdistributed via cell phone (as well as e-books and audio books), has been in the print publishing business for 15 years for Rodale, Element Books and Quarto. Schmidt and partner Allan Penn joined literary agent Lori Perkins to start Ravenous Romance. MobilizedTV spoke to Schmidt about the ins and outs of digital publishing, online and on mobile.

Why did you pick the mobile phone as a platform for distribution?


We’re fascinated by digital publishing. Lori and I, having spent decades in publishing, know that e-books will be the new mass-market publishing. It made sense to publish it digitally: less waste, instant gratification and the authors make more money. So we publish both online and on mobile. If you go to our site, it’ll tell you which format to download for which device from the Blackberry or iPhone to Kindle or the Sony reader. We’re trying to give people as many options as possible.

We didn’t start this business with the intention of just targeting the cell phone market. People are reading Ravenous Romance stories and novels mainly on digital readers or the computer, and we also offer audio books. Mobile is in its early stages and people are getting comfortable with it, whereas e-books have been around for 15 years.

The conventional wisdom [with e-books] was that the most popular books would be business and history and men would be reading. It surprised the publishing business that it was women buying e-books. Fifty percent of the fiction sold on Fictionwise, an online retailer of e-books, are romance.

Is there something about the mobile platform that made a good fit for erotica aimed at women?

I think it’s portable and discreet. The fact the reader can be sitting on the train and reading a dirty story and nobody knows it has an appeal. You can stand in the line at the grocery store and read it. You’ll get commuters and business travelers. We offer short stories that you can read in 15 minutes that you can read stuck in traffic. And everyone always has their phone with them,

A number of companies have achieved significant success in selling romantic erotica in the digital space, because it’s discreet. Whether you’re reading on your PC or iPod Touch, it’s not like carrying around a paperback book. That’s why this is the biggest category in e-books.

How did you recruit writers? I understand you’ve had numerous well known writers contribute stories.

We do. Through our connections, having been in publishing for a long time, we knew a lot of writers who had followings and a good track record in print and were willing to take a leap on this new technology. We’ve been in business since August and we have 200 writers already. We get writers from Romance Writers of America–and also those in traditional print publishing who are ready to make a leap into digital publishing. What we found is we’re getting writers from other genres: a well known horror writer wrote his first erotica for us. And non-fiction writers who have always written fiction but never gotten it published. Everybody has an erotic trunk novel, as Lori likes to say. You’d be surprised how many of these writers write erotica in their spare time. We are also taking unsolicited work and we’ve found good writers that way. We’re getting submissions from agents, without agents–we’re very open there.

How do you bill? Do you have arrangements with the carriers?

People are buying directly from our site. We don’t have a deal with carriers, although we’re talking to Global Reader about getting our books up on that. Stanza is the application for the iPhone, and you can buy our books through stanza, All Romance e-books has a deal with us, and they’re on the Stanza store.

Were any of the logistics in selling content over the mobile phone daunting? Has it been worth the effort?

So far it’s been pretty easy because it hasn’t been our primary market. Our primary market is people buying on the computer or their reading devices. But we’re hearing from customers that they’re reading on their iPhone, and people are downloading to iPod. In two years, everyone will be reading on their cell phones.

How do you keep track of metrics – who’s buying what from where?

It’s tough. We know what formats they’re downloading but beyond that we don’t know anything else. You can download a PDF and read on the Blackbery, so it’s difficult to track. We’ll track it better as we go forward. The scientific way would be to make it part of the check-out proces, or we could also do a customer survey. Our customers are vocal and we hear a lot for them. The majority of them now are downloading PDFs, which leads me to believe they are reading on their computers.

How do you market Ravenous Romance?

We’ve done a number of things. We do pay-per-click, through Google and Yahoo. We do PR. We do social networking, which is really where we’re going to put more emphasis in the coming year because (a) it’s free and (b) it is the best way to build a following of people who care about our brands and products. I’m on twitter as are many of my authors. Banner ads don’t seem to do all that much. There’s so much noise on the internet, people become immune to the banner ads, so I don’t think that’s a great investment. We’re trying to do more grassroots investment. And our readers are building their own tribes and writers groups; they build their own followings that adds up. We have a Ravenous Romance Facebook group and we’re on twitter and there’s a group on Yahoo where they can talk to our authors.

How much do Ravenous Romance stories and novels cost? And what kind of revenue arrangement do you have with these writers?

Every Ravenous Rendezvous short story is $1.99, every novel is $4.99, and every audiobook is $12.99. Authors get 38 percent of each sale.

So, is it possible then to make money on mobile with the written word?

It depends how you define money. Our authors make a higher percentage than in print. [Online and mobile publishing] takes more time to build, but in a year, two years, our writers will be making serious money. There’s no shelf space limitation. Barnes & Noble can only stock so many books. As we grow the site will evolve as well.

Any thoughts of expanding into rich media?

No, I think when we expand, we’ll expand into other literary genres such as scifi, horror, young adults–other genres that lend themselves to this model. When I think of this business model, I think of pulp fiction: things you want to read but don’t necessarily want to want to line your bookshelves with. These women read a book a day, and that’s a lot of shelf space. We need to target genres similar to that. We started with romance because it’s biggest, with the most voracious readership. With young adult, we might aggressively go after the mobile market–and that genre is next.

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Stock footage webinar

Stock footage may sound very far afield for those of you interested in creating mobile content. But it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. There are an increasing number of stock footage companies offering lower cost stockfootagestock for producers of online and mobile content. And all of you shooters creating that mobile content might be able to create a new revenue stream by licensing your footage to a stock footage company.

The topic is Monetizing Stock Footage. I’m flogging it in part because I am moderating the webinar, but also because I think a subset of MobilizedTV readers will find this useful. Participants include Paula Lumbard and Carol Martin of The Footage Bank, an all-HD footage house, and footagehead, that lower cost company for mobile creators. Also on board is BBC Motion Gallery’s Jan Ross. Cinematographers who are making at least a partial living off of licensing stock footage are Gil Hubbs, ASC and Randall Dark, an HD pioneer.

It should be an interesting 90 minute conversation, and there will be plenty of time to ask questions. To sweeten the deal, all webinar attendees will receive 50 percent off any Class On Demand product sold in the Studio Daily store, anything from training on Adobe CS4, Final Cut and Avid to Sony XDCAM and Shooting HDV.

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John Updike Liked Mobile Erotica

Or at least the idea of it. Yes, the well known author did die, but shortly before his death, John Updike gave an interesting interview to journalist David Barnett at the U.K.’s Guardian in which he gave an enthusiastic thumb’s up to the idea of publishing literature–including erotic novels–on the mobile phone.

The back-story is that former Penthouse author Catherine Hiller–a protegee of Updike’s–contributed a story to Ravenous Romance, an ebook/audiobook publisher of erotica aimed a women. Ravenous Romance is now repackaging its erotica for the mobile phone. Stay tuned for an interview with Ravenous Romance’s publisher Holly Schmidt. And Mr. Updike’s opinion of Hiller’s story? In a mobile blurb for the story, Updike calls it “good, brave, and joyful writing.”

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Happy New Year!

Dear Readers: I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Ready or not, it’s 2009.

I’ve been reading some of the doom-and-gloom scenarios surrounding mobile content’s prospects in the coming year. Those predictions have had me thinking about two very disparate events that I think paint a bigger and more accurate picture of where mobile content, mobile TV, mobile entertainment fits in the coming year.

One is the possibility of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild. If you’re reading this from Hollywood, you no doubt are already an expert in the stand-off, as two factions of the Guild push and pull for authorizing a strike. I won’t bore you with the details of the potential strike or its impact on the Hollywood film/TV industry. If you’re interested in that, feel free to google it and you’ll find a treasure trove of information.

What interests me is what the Screen Actors Guild membership and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television producers are fighting over. In a nutshell, the actors want residuals for the TV shows/films that, in some form, end up on the Internet. The idea goes, if it benefits the studios, it should benefit the actors. The studios/producers argue that they’re not profiting from Internet content (yet), therefore they can’t promise residuals.Although the argument is over “new media,” it really boils down to the Internet, with perhaps a whiff of consciousness about the potential of the mobile platform.

But that is a false paradigm. In the not-so-distant future, content will, to a large degree, be platform-agnostic. We’ll be able to cache it at home and move it fairly seamlessly between TV receivers, PC monitors and, yes, mobile platforms. Content will not be so clearly created for one medium and then repurposed for others. In a future of seamless connectivity, you (the viewer) may never know what platform it was created for first and if it’s entertaining, you won’t care.

This is a pretty terrifying prospect for the studios, which are built on a linear, top-down model and notorious for their lack of nimbleness. I’m most definitely not saying that the future of entertainment belongs to anybody with a digital camera. Let’s hope the future of entertainment rises above the majority of the videos found on YouTube. We don’t know much about the future model(s) for distribution of professionally produced content, but I do believe it will be much less hierarchical.

A fight over how many pennies are being made or could be made from Internet distribution is ultimately a futile one. It’s a lot bigger than the Internet. Professional actors, writers and other creatives should be fairly compensated for their work. Just trying to keep track of who’s watching it where is going to get a lot more complicated.

In that same mode, for the years that the giant electronics manufacturers fought it out between HD DVD and BluRay, I believed the battle was a moot point. I’m not saying that physical media will disappear in this new connected entertainment environment, but it’s going to be a lot less important. BluRay “won” the wars for the next-gen High Definition digital media format. But its victory may be very short-lived as people gravitate to downloading movies and other entertainment…and watching on whatever platform they choose.

So, back to the dire predictions for mobile entertainment in 2009 in the U.S. I doubt that mobile entertainment will ever arrive as a “splash” of exciting new technology. I don’t know if we’ll have “the year that mobile TV arrived.” (If so, I agree with the pundits that it won’t happen in 2009.) But maybe our interaction with content will shift in fits and starts, gradually enough, that we–or at least the teenagers we know–will be accessing content on a mobile platform and forget we were supposed to be amazed.

Coming up for 2009:

Look for:

* The next mobile installment of filmmaker L.M. Kit Carson’s “Africa Diaries,” with a story of the latest Nokia N95 production he shot in Zambia for The Sundance Channel.

* My coverage at the Consumer Electronics Show tomorrow morning and hope to cover bits and pieces of it!

And, drum roll please, MobilizedTV is on the verge of a format change. The new MobilizedTV – which I hope will appear in the next week or two — will be easier to navigate and feature video. I’ll look forward to your feedback.

All best wishes for a happy, healthy 2009.

And thanks for reading and supporting MobilizedTV.

Best regards,

Debra Kaufman

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