Being able to fully use the mobile platform to include programming, rather than as an adjunct to their traditional and Internet offerings, will complete stations’ evolution into three-screen media companies rather than simply TV stations.
Having already laid the groundwork for putting programming on mobile devices, broadcasters are exploring ways to maximize their ability to use the medium when doing so becomes fully available, panelists said Thursday at BIA’s Winning Media Strategies conference in Washington.
While both technology and law have thus far kept mobile devices, like smart phones, from picking up broadcast signals, it won’t be long before they are able to so, meaning the players — broadcasters, manufacturers and carriers — already are partnering to debut mobile service as soon as they are able.
For broadcasters, being able to fully use the mobile platform to include programming, rather than as an adjunct to their traditional and Internet offerings, will complete their evolution into three-screen media companies rather than simply TV stations, the panelists said.
“Mobile clearly could be the third leg of the stool that broadcasters can provide today,” said Anne Schelle, who, as executive director of the Open Mobile Video Coalition, represents more than 800 member TV stations preparing to debut on mobile.
“Broadcasters are well poised to provide this service,” she said.
In doing so, the Open Mobile Video Coalition is test-driving a range of mobile devices, including one that can be plugged into smart phones to act as a digital station — a concept that could work once TV stations make the digital transition next month, Schelle said.
The coalition also has launched two model television stations — one in Atlanta and one in Seattle — created so manufacturers will be able to test mobile TV technology to see if it works, she said.
The effort by broadcasters to move into mobile platforms stems from the prospect that doing so is a relatively easy endeavor and that consumers are anxious for.
“Consumers want TV on the go,” Schelle said.
Panelist John Lawson, EVP, Ion Media, said that by using the mobile platform, TV stations for the first time in their history will be able to track and quantify audience response to programming and advertising — something that up until now has been concretely determined.
“For me, the real enabling is not only the mobility but that we will have a return path for the first time in the 60-year history of TV,” he said. “We are not sending our content to a dumb device.”
That said, there are still a host of unknowns about airing programming on mobile devices — and certain rules governing doing still have yet to be formalized, said Jerald Fritz, VP, Allbritton Communications.
While stations may concentrate on the technological side of going mobile, laws regulating issues like programming rights have yet to be ironed out, he said. Broadcasters also need to create tools for measuring audience response to their mobile endeavors, he said.
“I think broadcasters have the right plan,” Fritz said, explaining, though, that the technological, legal and analytical parts of those plans have to be properly installed for them to work.
“That’s a big challenge,” he said.