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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What mobile television means for newspapers

The French television group, Canal Plus, a division of Vivendi Universal, has struck a deal with SFR, a leading French mobile phone provider, according to the International Herald Tribune. For a 7 euro a month charge tacked on to their cellular bill, customers will now be able to use their 3G mobile phones to scan about 20 Canal Plus channels. Subscribers are expected to use the new technology whenever they have a spare minute, mostly during their daily commute and in between meetings.

So how will newspapers be affected?

Well, think about it.
What do people traditionally do on the train in between home and work?
Answer: read their city newspaper.

How has this already changed?
Answer: just look at the myriad of Mp3 players that have commuters tapping their feet, not to mention the explosion of free papers such as Metro and 20 Minutes.

How is this going to change again?
Answer: Instead of tuning into their iPod, closing their eyes and tuning out of the sardine-packed metro, commuters will, sooner rather than later, be plugging their earphones into their Nokia (who recently estimated global mobile phone penetration at 3 billion by 2010), and staring at their mobile screen watching whatever they'd like, from breaking news to sitcoms to sporting events.

We have heard much about the opportunities mobile phones provide to newspapers through subscriptions to periodic text alerts which in turn could connect to an article. But does 3G television technology render this nascent innovation already obsolete? Will consumers ultimately vie for video over text? There's certainly a high possibility.

So how do newspapers adjust?

Convergence and multimedia training for journalists. It seems that from the size of a mobile screen and the sporadic spurts of time consumers will have to watch it, programming will have to be packaged to fit these restrictions. Most people are not going to be watching Hollywood blockbusters on a two inch by two inch screen. But they will be interested in catching up on what's going on in the world in brief news blurbs. "Well," you might argue, " the five minute segments pumped out on the nightly news would be a perfect fit." True, but many consumers used to quality newspaper journalism find this type of news too shallow for their liking. Thus, newspapers would be wise to train their own journalists in multimedia production and converge with television companies and mobile providers to produce commuter briefings that entice watchers to become readers, linking them to the print article that could feasibly be sitting on their desk, or their desktop, when they arrive at the office.

The dynamics of the newspaper market have changed. The reader is no longer going to come to you. Instead, you're going to have to find ways to attract the reader to your content. Mobile television will definitely be a powerful medium through which to accomplish this.

Sources: International Herald Tribune and India Daily

Posted by john burke on June 29, 2005 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

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