It’s a multi-platform world


“Business as usual just doesn’t cut it anymore,” said Sheau Ng, NBC Universal VP of Consumer and Broadcast Technology, as he discussed the moves that his company and its competitors are making to how they create and deliver video. The market is no longer just in home, but anywhere that the consumer wants to look at video on a screen of any size. He noted that use of NBCU’s streaming video offerings picks up at lunch time as people watch video during their break from work.

It is no longer prime time, but “my time” said Kevin Wirick, a VP focused on video at Motorola, who also spoke at the NAB Show’s Broadband TV World event. Earlier in the week Ion Media Networks CEO Brandon Burgess was talking about mobile TV receivers for broadcast TV offerings being available next February (4/15/08 TVBR #74). That’s not just a dream. Even though the final standard is yet to be adopted, Wirick said Motorola was showing on the exhibit floor a hand-held device that combines wireless Internet and the DTV signals that broadcasters will be offering for mobile video.

Ng said new models are needed to serve consumers’ insatiable demand for content. To meet the demands for video anywhere and everywhere, Ng said most TV networks, including, of course, NBCU’s broadcast and cable networks, have moved from strictly linear video delivery to non-linear video on demand. He also noted that renaming the O&O TV station group NBC Local Media was more than a name change, with the local community assets to be leveraged to serve consumers in new ways and ad value to the company.

Mobile video is already a big deal in several foreign countries and it may explode in the US once advertising supported free services are launched by broadcasters. For now, though, most Americans who have video-capable cell phones aren’t utilizing the feature. Speaking at a session in the NAB Show’s Content Central, Nielsen Sr. Director of Mobile Video Jerry Rocha said subscription cost is a major barrier. Of the 250 million mobile phone users in the US, some 30% have video-capable phones, but only 6% pay for the service and only 3% use it regularly.

Panelists agreed that the key going forward will be to be multi-platform, adapting video content for delivery to all three screens that people use – television, computer and mobile. Skip Fredericks, Sr. VP of Wizzard TV, said his company is having success with content produced for mobile use in short form, but then repackaged for television by merging several pieces together. As for the mobile market, he said “90 seconds is the nail on the head format.”