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Primetime is ‘my time’

For decades, the viewing patterns of tv audiences around the world was both linear and regular. At certain predictable points in time - primetime - the audience would gather around their tv sets. And at equally predictable points in time, they would leave. With the introduction of mobile and iptv, it remains to be seen if primetime will survive, or if 'my time' will prevail.
October 1, 2006

For decades, the viewing patterns of TV audiences around the world was both linear and regular. At certain predictable points in time – primetime – the audience would gather around their TV sets. And at equally predictable points in time, they would leave. With the introduction of mobile and IPTV, it remains to be seen if primetime will survive, or if ‘my time’ will prevail.

September saw the launch of Zodiak Television’s dedicated mobile development group, 5th Element, created to meet the increasing demand for strong mobile and IPTV content. To try to investigate the issue raised above, our R&D has thrown up some pertinent findings:

According to our research, viewing duration is correlated to screen size. So, trying to push ‘regular’ TV onto mobile and IPTV will face clear difficulties. There are a number of reasons why this is so, but a good example is that content and event television – like full-length football matches or the Eurovision song contest – which depends on group viewing. We predict that it will fail on mobile and IPTV due to the fact that mobile TV is generally a ‘one-man show,’ and lacks the ability to rally a group of viewers. As content providers, it is crucial to be aware that different platforms have unique selling points, and that we have to learn them, understand them and, most importantly, exploit them properly.

In addition to this talk of what content will actually start producing decent revenues for content providers the world over, we must consider another somewhat surprising barrier: risk-averse industry players. Mobile operators and hardware suppliers subsidize handsets to the tune of several billion dollars annually – but not content. Is it such a surprise that data traffic isn’t taking off to the predicted degree? Now is the time to start subsidizing content, and helping consumers understand how they can, should, and will use the advanced cell phones that reside in almost every pocket.

Yet another interesting question hangs in the air: how do we get the loyal, regular IPTV viewers to watch mobile TV when, due to rights issues, current mobile offerings of broadcast channels are very different to those available on regular channels? Understandably, viewers will be upset when they expect to watch Desperate Housewives at 6 p.m., but due to rights issues, they are instead treated to a re-run of a 1998 docusoap from Dubai. Broadcasters, or media houses as they now like to be referred to, must step up and make sure their brands aren’t diluted on the cell phone, as we all stand to lose from that.

In closing, I would like to share the following finding: we plotted a regular day and examined where people go for their premier news feed. We discovered that the new mobile, IPTV and regular TV primetime slots hardly overlap. In fact, they actually complement one another. So, it would follow that the real opportunity media houses have with the combination of mobile, IPTV and regular TV is the ability to ‘link’ their viewers throughout the day and build a 24-hour bond.

By using the primetime patterns to determine when to target efforts, whilst also adapting the content to that specific screen, the true result could be that my time is primetime all the time. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

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