UK’s Channel 4 has extended its move into mobile video by launching a mobile TV channel on the 3G networks of Vodafone and Orange. The channel will feature hit shows such as ‘Brat Camp’, ‘Supernanny’ and Grand Designs’, and will be available “at the touch of a button and free of charge until 2006”.
Channel 4 is keen to get a strong presence in mobile TV (although whether rebroadcasting full-length shows is the right way to do it is a matter for debate), and this initiative reportedly “paves the way for Channel 4 to commission programmes specifically for mobile phones and episodes of Channel 4’s shows tailored to view on mobiles”.
“During ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ short clips from the programme were downloaded at a rate of more than 50,000 a day, and live streaming of ‘Big Brother 6’ was incredibly popular, so we know a big appetite exists for compelling mobile content,” said Paul Whitehead head of business development of Channel 4 New Media.
Of course, short clips are very different from full-length shows, especially since they can show things that weren’t shown on the regular TV show. Likewise, streaming video from the 24 hour-a-day experiment in societal voyeurism that is Big Brother offers a strong benefit of immediacy over TV. Neither of these apply to full length shows — but then, C4 is not just rebroadcasting its shows and this latest move is just one part of its overall strategy, so I don’t think it’s being viewed as the big money-spinner but rather something that’s easy and logical to include in a branded mobile channel.
UPDATE: C21Media has reported that Channel 4 is “ploughing a seven-figure sum into mobile phone initiatives next year”. It’s got a few more details about the channel — “The service is available ad-free, interspersed with C4 idents and voiceovers, and will run on a loop throughout the day, with the line-up refreshed daily” — which indicates the channel is streamed, whereas I had been under the impression that “channel” had refered to a submenu which included downloads from C4.
“C4 has dealt with the thorny issue of new-media rights, which is currently hindering what it can do in mobile and online, by using past programmes and negotiating individual deals with producers like RDF for new shows…The broadcaster is currently lobbying to secure some form of blanket agreement allowing it to use its programmes on digital platforms, but indie trade body Pact is resisting its efforts.”
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