Monday, December 06, 2004


Last month, Fox announced a unique series of one-minute dramas based on its hit show 24 for Vodafone Live! and its brand new 3G service. The "mobisodes", as they're being called, will be introduced in January 2005 in the UK and more than a commercial service, I think it really represents a milestone in the entertainment industry.

Let's take a step back here. Well, I am far from being a Hollywood Guru, but when the TV came out, I think we can say that there were two categories of content being broadcasted. First, the type of content that already existed on other mediums - such as movies coming from theatres - that could just fit well on a TV. Second, the made-for-TV type of content as we know it today. TV is still using these two categories, because it is by nature very well adapted to its format, its distribution, but a different business model has been introduced: TV commercials.

Now let's look at the Web. It is an ocean of everything where anybody can put their own content available for others, a many-to-many type of model while the TV has followed a one-to-many approach. I think the mobile space is somewhere in between, since you still have operators who have some degree of control of services - the deck - while you also have the many-to-many paradigm possible. But what does this really imply for our mobisodes here?

Well think about it. 24 on cell phones is like cinema for television, fitting into the first category of entertainment (in our case, 24 will be 1 minute episodes instead of 60 minutes, so there is still some adaptation here). But what is expected to come next is content-made-for-mobile type of entertainment, this is what we could call mobile entertainment or mobertainment. The type of content designed from scratch for the mobile platform, considering its nature: limits (screen size, etc.) and unique advantages (interactivity, anywhere, etc.).

I have been told our 24 case here had its limits, due to what the whole entertainment industry is based on: rights, rights and rights. I have been told that a different cast will be put in the wireless version of the series due to rights issues, because the show has not been designed for wireless on a legal statepoint.

Last week end, I was down in LA, spending some time with the crowed behind The Spot. This show may be the very first one that belongs to the second category, which is made-for-mobile from scratch. And this is because of the format of content they started to use, but also and mainly because of the way rights are handled. The company behind The Spot owns the rights and could launch the episodes on the Web as well as on wireless. Since May this year, Sprint subscribers can access to the daily audio episodes for a monthly fee and the production is talk with television channels as well. I actually did start my Hollywood career there, since I played a mysterious French guy called Alexandre Badeaux (you should check out the free videos online starting this Wednesday!).

What is cool about the Spot is the community built around it and its influence power. Fans can email, send text or video messages to the Spot Mates (people living in the house being called the Spot) and somehow influence how the storyline is evolving. And all of that can be done from a cell phone! I am not a big fan of reality types of shows, but how many people out there would like to some degrees of influence over the people they watch on these shows? I can imagine this becoming big, really big.

I believe 24 and especially the Spot being good examples of how the entertainment industry can efficiently embrace the wireless space, not just pushing what's already available on TV or other mediums.