It’s been a long time since News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). dared create original programming expressly for mobile viewing in the U.S., but it’s back.
Bitbop, an app from Fox Mobile Group for Blackberry and Android smartphones that offers full-length TV shows for $9.99 per month, has ordered eight episodes of the original comedy series “Honey and Joy.”
Given the struggles of just about everyone to turn mobile video into a real business in this country (RIP, FLO TV), few risked going as far as to do anything more that repurpose existing programming. And while no one at Bitbop dare call this new project a “mobisode,” that was the term of choice five years ago when you could say with a straight face that creating new intellectual property for a show displayed on a screen you have to squint to watch had real upside.
Coincidentally enough, it was Fox that trademarked the term back in 2005. Those were heady days back then, when creating a mobile-only spin-off to a primetime hit like “24” seemed to make sense, and they weren’t the only ones (you know who you are, ABC’s “Lost”). 20th Century Fox even created non-derivative mobisodes for another mobile-inspired word people at Fox would love wiped from their memory banks: Mobizzo, a storefront for mobile entertainment that seems to have since been re-imagined as a mobile-trivia service.
Now the brave folks at Bitbop are ready to give it another whirl, but not without some help. “Honey” is actually a branded-entertainment program with backing from Post Foods in support of Honey Bunches of Oats. The cereal will be “organically integrated” into the comedy, which will follow the misadventures of two women named Honey and Joy who work at the Honey Bunches of Oats factory. They will be played by “top talent” to be named later, assures the press release, in time for its April 2011 debut.
HBO, an acronym fitting for a breakfast food with entertainment aspirations, is the third largest brand in the cereal category, according to the press release. Perhaps Bitbop wanted Buzz, the mascot bee from Honey Nut Cheerios, but he was holding out for a TV deal with iPad.
Just don’t call that an “iPadisode.”