TV Producers to Offer Java-based Content Portals
By Carlo Longino, Thu Sep 02 22:15:00 GMT 2004

The companies behind Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Big Brother will soon offer downloadable Java content applications, letting them bypass carrier portals.

Celador, the producer of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, says it could launch a Java application based around the show in the UK during its new season, which begins this month. The downloadable app will offer users content like ringtones, video and news without having to go through their carrier's portal. Endemol, the producer of Big Brother, says it will launch similar portal applications for its TV brands by the end of the year.

There have been some previous applications of this type, with many of them match-tracker type apps based around sports, and some even carrier co-branded. It's an interesting move for the brands to stake a claim for space on user's handsets, and it remains to be seen just how carriers will take to the news (keep in mind that Endemol, which is working with Orange for a ringtone TV show, is owned by Telefonica).

Operators tend to like anything that helps boost packet traffic, but at the same time are very sensitive to anything they perceive as stealing away their potential content revenues -- highlighted most clearly by walled gardens. Clearly Celador and Endemol see a space in the market for their content, and aren't satisfied with the placement it gets in carrier portals, or the revenue-sharing carriers demand, and their brands are strong enough to forge out on their own.

Perhaps it's merely just the latest wrinkle in the long-running argument over whether carriers should concentrate on building the best pipe possible for other people's content, or if they should focus on being content aggregators and providers. What mobile data is still calling for is an ecosystem that allows both carriers and content providers to thrive, but few operators understand or embrace this concept. They're more likely to try to keep content for which they can't bill off of their subscribers' devices.