Broadcast to Mobile
As mobile penetration has continued to increase in recent years, so has the growth of handset capabilities. As a result, we've seen richer media (such as audio and video) become regularly present within the mobile space (see FIGURE 4.7), and consumers are engaging with it.
Figure 4.7 News goes mobile.
This has been especially true within the broadcast genre, including these examples:
- News channels (see FIGURE 4.8)
Figure 4.8 Broadcast channel news content.
- Entertainment channels
- Lifestyle channels
- Sports channels
- Weather channels
Many broadcast stations have established their own mobile Internet sites. For example, on mobile news channel sites, users can get daily weather reports; read local, national, and global news; and get the latest information on science, health, money, sports, and more. Because news sites use more text than visual design or photographs, they load instantly (even on the slower mobile connections)—thus providing quick access to content. News sites tend to have a much broader target audience. To accommodate their users' various levels of mobile abilities and handsets, news sites follow a "keep it simple" interaction design approach. This approach streamlines content and keeps images minimal, allowing for a seamless click-through experience. Pages are lightweight, and the majority of content on the page is the content itself.
Broadcast channels are also offering up their own media streams on their mobile sites, through mobile applications, or by teaming up with third-party vendors to handle the feeds. This extends broadcast content into the mobile space and allows the regular viewers to stay in touch with channel offerings while on the go. This includes all genres of broadcast channels.
For example, an entertainment broadcast channel might offer up movie previews, full broadcasts, music videos, interviews, or anything else attributed to its programming. Additional support material on entertainment mobile sites can include schedules, show descriptions, cast descriptions, and additional content offerings complementary to the broadcasts themselves. For sports enthusiasts, mobile Internet sites devoted to sports mean they can follow their favorite teams or sports no matter where they are. Fans can follow their teams outside of their living rooms—while riding buses or waiting in lines.
Many broadcast stations have begun to promote their mobile sites on-air, so that viewers are aware of their available mobile content. This has been accomplished via on-air anchor promotions, printing on the screen, and inviting viewers to text short codes to receive corresponding SMSs.
In addition to creating mobile Internet awareness campaigns, many broadcast programs have been running their own SMS campaigns. Television viewing has truly become interactive, as viewers now have a say or vote on game shows, reality shows, and sportscasts. Some uses of SMS include:
- Text the keyword "A, B, C, or D" to 12345 to vote for your favorite contestant or player. Many times we see reality shows or game shows where a national audience votes on their favorite contestant. The results are tallied via the incoming SMS and displayed in the next day's show. Sportscasts also play in this space, allowing users to vote on the game's MVP. Although this is a small interaction, this is a big step from the days when users only viewed a game show, unable to participate. Now they can participate in the comfort of their living rooms and view the tallied results on television.
- Text the keyword "tickets" to 12345 for your chance to win tickets to a game. Sportscasts give away tickets to upcoming games via SMS. Users submit their SMS: If they win, they receive a confirmation pin and instructions on how to claim their tickets.
- Text the keyword "info" to 12345 to learn more about a product. Commercials end with URLs pointing to online Internet sites and, more recently, SMS calls to action. When users submit their SMSs, they receive SMSs containing a link to the product's mobile Internet site. By clicking that link, users can then learn more about and/or download ringtones, wallpaper, video, and more exclusive mobile content.
- Text your area code to 12345 to find the weather in your area. News and weather stations offer a service whereby users SMS their area codes and receive up-to-date weather reports for their areas.
Third-party mobile providers have developed applets that stream video 24/7. These applets provide channel viewing of almost every genre, including major broadcast networks and cable networks. Additional streams are also specially produced and unique to the mobile space.
Many third-party vendors have teamed up with core media channels to boost their channel selection and better serve their consumers. These are paid subscription applets, in which users will pay an additional amount per month to run the application. With heavy content such as streaming or downloadable media, users must have an unlimited data plan (or they'll end up with an expensive bill at the end of the month).
With the continual increase in handset and applet development, the presence of broadcast streaming takes another step toward full integration. Network carriers also value the importance of richer media and offer it along with their core services.
Some carriers have invested a great amount of time and development in handset-specific applications that run only on their networks to support such media. See FIGURE 4.9. These applications stream media directly to users' handsets. This greatly helps out an audience primarily comprised of those new to the mobile Internet. These users might not fully understand how to navigate their way around or how to properly connect to media streams.
Figure 4.9 Device-specific applications.