Television’s New Joy of Text

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The WSJ has an interesting story about TV companies getting into SMS competitions and voting…this does two main things. It encourages people to watch the shows as they are being aired rather than record them and watch them later, which increases viewer loyalty and — more importantly — makes them watch the ads. Also, the recent “consumer best practices guidelines” introduced by the US carriers allows premium messaging as long as people are made aware how much it costs, so now shows can charge up to 99c to send in an SMS rather than 10c or so. This gets to the stage where the revenue from messaging becomes significant, enough to pay for the show perhaps (or at least a part of it). Which is kind of a move away from ad-supported to user-pays…although not really. All this works best for live-to-air and reality programs of course, but I’ve seen similar things in scripted shows where people are told to SMS a specific detail by the end of the show to get a prize.

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