Mindless Marketing or Must-See TV?
By David Pescovitz, Fri Nov 12 12:30:00 GMT 2004

Mobile video can do more than just advertise old media.

This week’s big mobile media news is that the addictive TV drama "24" is coming to mobile phones in the UK thanks to the new Vodafone live! 3G service announced on Wednesday. Now try to keep up: You won’t be watching sixty-minutes of "24" on a two-inch screen, but rather twenty-four, one-minute episodes of "24: Conspiracy", a new made-for-mobile program inspired by the TV series. It’s the first mobisode, as Vodafone has dubbed the programs, to come out of their deal with Twentieth Century Fox. Vodafone live! with 3G will also serve up movie clips, trailers, wallpapers, and ringtones all tied to a Fox “Movie of the Month,” the first of which is "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason".

Vodafone says that their customers "will be the first to experience a new generation of made-for-mobile TV and film content." The association with an ultrahip show like "24" is certainly smart licensing, but it’s really just another of many mobile TV and video deals emerging from the 3G mire.

Right now, it’s easy to get the public excited about mobile TV. That’s because the idea of watching video on your handset is novel, even if most of what you can tune in to is, by and large, advertising. Movie clips are really just teasers to bring audiences to theaters. Music videos, for the most part, are commercials for new albums. And "24: Conspiracy" sounds like a great way to entice viewers to watch the real show in their living rooms.

Curiosity only sells for so long though. Once the newness of the technology wears off, using mobile video to market old media won’t be enough, and users will demand content that does more than advertise. In the near future, audiences will want to get what they’re paying for: Here we are now, entertain us.