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Get Ready To Channel Surf On Your Mobile Phone

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2008 | 8:40 AM ET
AP

Who says broadcasting is all about TV? One of the hot topics at the National Association of Broadcasters convention is broadcasting to your mobile phone.

Media companies are eager to get their content onto your phone--to allow you to channel surf, and take in commercials, just like you're sitting in your living room. Between DVRs allowing you to skip through commercials and so many more outlets competing for your attention, they want to get their TV content and ads in front of you in whatever way possible.

Broadcasters can use mobile information about where you are and when and how you use your phone to carefully target ads. Ericsson says integrating mobile data increased clickthrough ad rates on phones from .2 percent to 13 percent, which is really stunning.

Ericsson's VP of Media Content Pankaj Asundi explained how much more useful it is to consumers to get an based on where they are. If you usually work in LA and are in Vegas at a convention, of course you'd be curious for an ad telling you where the nearest Starbucks is in Vegas, not back home.

Taking a different approach, hundreds of broadcasters have joined forces to find a common standard to broadcast TV to chips in mobile phones--broadcasting over the airwaves just like they do to TVs, but using a different spectrum. The head of the 'Open Mobile Video Coalition,' says that because broadcasters already have the infrastructure in place--and because the chips won't add much to the cost of a cell phone--he expects TV (along with commercials) to be broadcast to cell phones by the end of 2009. That hinges of course on the purchase of the wireless spectrum.

Yes, people have been talking about mobile content for years. So why do I think people will really start watching TV on their phones? Easy: the iPhone and the slew of fancy-screen mobile phones the iPhone has spawned. It's pleasant to watch on that nice screen. And it comes down to the fact that there are many millions more cellphones to distribute content to in the U.S. than there are TVs. And for the TV industry, struggling to evolve, that's good news.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.