Orange CEO Sanjiv Ahuja did his best to convince his audience that mobile is fantastic new (ish) channel for content producers to reach their audience.
— There was a lot of “bigging up” of Orange’s achievements, as you’d expect: first operator to sell music downloads 2.5 years ago, selling more than 100,000 tracks a month, offered the first European mobile TV offering in Romania, first to offer blogging via phones, 110,000 blogs created by Orange customers as of last month. I have to say that as a customer, you’d never really notice any of those features unless you drilled down into your phone menu/instruction book/Orange website. More stats: Orange’s DVBH trials tripled the average length of mobile TV, up to 8/9/10 minutes; and he repeated the forecast of at least 124.8 million regular global mobile TV viewers by 2010 and a total potential global audience of two billion. Ahuja wouldn’t indicate Orange’s revenue from mobile TV: “It is small but growing nicely.”
— Orange France now has 300,000 active users and August was a record month recording five million user sessions. Ahuja said Orange encouraged take up through a combination of attractive packages like unlimited weekend TV for 10 Euros a month, offering a mix of 50 linear and VOD channels and making services accessible within a couple of clicks. “If we’re honest, none of us want to spend 90 minutes watching a movie or soccer match on a two-inch screen, particularly if you could watch at home on your TV or on the internet,” he said. I sometimes feel like the only person on the planet that doesn’t watch Desperate Housewives and Lost. Anyway, I can also not watch Desperate Housewives as four minute ‘story-so-far’ clips and two-minute previews on Orange. Ahuja said those kind of formats don’t replace watching the TV show but supplement it, although I think those two examples are really just trailers. In France, the Plus Belle La Vie series has shown on TV and mobile since 2005. The show has 6 million viewers on TV, so that’s another example of a strong brand but here the service was an alternative way of watching the show offering each episode in three eight-minute chunks. Orange was the first operator to offer a simultaneous multi-platform transmission, he said.
– Appealing to content producers, he said: “We need great stories and properties we can package in different forms. We want you to concentrate on what you do best and that’s creating content, capturing people’s imaginations and storytelling. As an industry, we will concentrate on delivering the best possible experience of your product to our mutual customers. We’ll tailor it for different formats using our knowledge of the customer and work to find the right revenue model.”
– That’s yet another consistent theme in all these debates – experimentation is essential because this is a new format and no-one has the perfect model. But as one person from an operator told me, mobile TV really isn’t that new – it has been around for ages but still hasn’t taken off. Content companies seem to blame the technology and interoperability issues, and distributors seem to say there’s a lack of good, relevant mobile content. That’s maybe a bit harsh, but the technology keeps getting the blame for the slow uptake of all these services. “These are early days and everything we do is an experiment. We have to learn how best to package content for different platforms.”
– Lastly, on Google/YouTube: “It’s wonderful that Google bought YouTube. It’s a different business model for them. They’ve been in the search business, not the content business.” I’m not sure some of the news industry would agree with that… Disclaimer: Orange has been a sponsor of MocoNews.net.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.