The future of TV will be personal

Personalisation and interactivity will be the key drivers of mobile TV according to a new report commissioned by Nokia and the London School of Economics.

The report, by Dr Shani Orgad from the London School of Economics and titled ‘This Box Was Made For Walking’, examines the future impact of mobile TV on the broadcasting and advertising industries.

The report predicts that the introduction and adoption of mobile TV will ultimately give way to a more personal and private TV experience than that of traditional broadcast TV, with big implications for users, content providers and advertisers. Users will be able to receive content anytime, anywhere, choose what is most relevant to them, and even create and upload their own television content, while content providers and advertisers will be able to tailor their offerings more specifically to the user.

"For mobile TV to become more than just television on the move, it will have to build on existing channels, programmes, and ways of watching television and using the Internet." said Dr Shani Orgad. "Mobile TV will become a multimedia experience with an emphasis on personalisation, interactivity and user-generated content."

According to the report, the current trend of user generated content, as seen by the phenomenal growth of YouTube, will be a key feature of mobile TV. As consumers increasingly use their mobile devices to create video content, new broadcast platforms will emerge to distribute this content to other mobile users. The United States television channel, Current TV, is a good indicator of the future with 30% of its programming consisting of user-generated content.

The report also reveals that advertisers are currently experimenting with five and seven second-long ad spots to be better suited to the ‘snacking culture’ of mobile TV viewing.

The report predicts that mobile TV programming will be a combination of original content from broadcast television and new content made specifically for mobile.

It is expected that the most popular genres and programmes on mobile TV will be news, entertainment (soaps, reality shows, comedy, animation), sport, music and children’s programmes.  Moreover, the content will be tailored with the mobile viewer in mind:

  • Much shorter and more concise news bulletins
  • User interactivity in the plots of reality TV shows and game shows
  • Growing importance of user-generated content
  • New distribution formats: in China, for instance, the movie Kung Fu Hustle was made into ten segments for mobile TV
The mobile TV viewing experience is also likely to see new programme formats emerging. These include:
Talking heads and close ups – due to the small screen size, broadcasters will need to focus on talking heads, where viewers will be able to watch close-ups and see the details, rather than capturing a wide screen.
‘Snackable content’ – mobile TV content will need to be suitable for ‘snacking’.
  • Mobisodes – mobisodes are fragmented and small made-for-mobile episodes that cater to bite-sized portions of content on the go.
  • Visual spectacle – programmes will need to emphasise visual spectacle over conventional narrative and be image-orientated.  
  • Local content – content should be relevant for the here-and-now of viewers.
Broadcasters are likely to see a new midday prime time with mobile TV according to the report. This is backed up by consumer trials of mobile TV in Europe which revealed heavy usage of mobile TV during the day as well as during the more traditional early morning and late evening prime times.

This Box Was Made For Walking was written by Dr Shani Orgad, from the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, based on a review of existing literature, analysis of mobile TV consumer trials, interviews with experts in the fields of television, mobile media, advertising and other media, and attendance at industry events.

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