In Movies & TV Commentary

Media on your phone: the next frontier.

Will people watch TV on their phones?

Broadcast outlets are now lumped into a category I like to call "content providers."

As a person living, breathing and making a living in this digital world, I've changed my outlook long ago about how people get their information. The problem is, as certain industries in mass media get so entrenched in the current formats they are working in, they often lose sight of the big picture – get message A to person B.

True content providers know that the next arena they need to master is mobile. And for local TV stations, that means getting their broadcasts streaming live on your phone.

Mobile Content Venture is the title given to the networks working together to make this happen sooner rather than later. Roger Cheng of CNet does a great job spelling out how a group of names like NBC, Fox, CBS, ABC, Hearst, Belo, Media General, Gannett, Samsung, Cox, Lin, Telemundo and others are going to make it happen in a recent article.

Closer to home, it will be interesting to see how the local news outlets adapt their product to reach an audience that is continually on the go. The first step was offering video clips of stories on their websites. Now, they'll need to look at streaming servers, compression rates, resolution settings and the like to get the technology in place to create a delivery system.

From my experience, the engineering crews at each of the stations are some of the brightest people you will ever find. They will work hard, and they will come up with a solution. That's actually the easy part.

The harder part is going to be figuring out what the content will be, and how to market it to get us to watch. It's one thing when you have the option available in a market, it's another to describe what it is, how to make money from the venture and figure out if there's an actual return on the investment.

You see, there's this uncontrollable variable in this whole mix: the people. Will they want to watch local programming when first out of the gate will be national products? Will the local affiliates get commercial access to the national products on a geographical basis, or will that revenue be lost and go into the national coffers?

Then if you get the people to watch, what will they watch? How long will they watch it? How frequently will they come back to it?

True content providers know they need to be able to craft something that can be consumed, no matter the platform it can be consumed on. The question will be whether we want to see yet another package clip of the lead story from the 10 p.m. newscast. And if that's what the local stations are banking on, they will find themselves in a world of hurt.

FREE RIDE: If you listened to 620 WTMJ-AM at all this summer, then you have to know what the Free Ride is all about. The contest gave away a fully restored 1969 Chevy Camaro from Heiser Automotive. Aaron Guenterberg of Watertown was announced as the big winner Tuesday, registering at one of many of the station's remote broadcast registration events.

"It's so exciting, I listen to WTMJ everyday! It all has to settle in. I know that I need to clean out my garage to make room!" Guenterberg said in a statement.

A little insight on how remote broadcasts work: Stations sell these to advertisers that want to promote or hype a reason for you to experience their service or purchase a product. Car dealerships, retail outlets ... just about any business can create an event and promote it with a remote broadcast.

The station will usually send out an on-air staff member to provide "coverage" of what is going on at these marketing events. I have to admit, this a pretty well-run promotion and has become an annual staple at the news and talk station.

FAMILY PROGRAMMING: DreamWorks, the film studio behind the Shrek, Madagascar and Kung-Fu Panda franchises, is said to be in talks to create a cable or digital channel. The company recently bought the rights to a number of classic properties including Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Richie Rich, Casper and others.

Now it could leverage those assets and use the broadcast outlet to promote its film efforts. I for one would love to see a return of "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" that's better than the latest reincarnation with Robert De Niro. I remember watching the reruns very early mornings on WCGV-TV Ch. 24 in the '80s.



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