Mobile TV Data Depicts Baby Steps of a New Media

Jan 15, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” is far and away the television program that consumers are most interested in watching on mobile telephones. During the second quarter of 2006, the Comedy Central show was the most popular show for mobile video customers, followed by ABC’s “Lost.” Both shows are primarily available on a pay-per-download basis.

“Jon Stewart is the best thing that ever happened to mobile,” said Levi Shapiro, director of audience metrics at mobile research firm Telephia, during a presentation Monday at NATPE Mobile ++ in Las Vegas.

Rounding out the top five listings for most popular TV shows and networks on mobile phones were CNN, ESPN and ABC News.

The numbers represent some of the first pieces of data about usage of mobile video and what type of content consumers are willing to pay for. The information provides a guidepost to TV executives as they refine their mobile strategies. The findings cut against the predictions of industry experts who expected that news, weather and traffic clips would best lend themselves to the mobile business. Those are popular categories, but there is also a tremendous demand for comedy and entertainment content on mobile phones.

Mr. Stewart’s show also beat out content from television networks that are more widely available to mobile customers, including the Weather Channel, which reaches 88 percent of mobile video subscribers. The entertainment content also proved more popular than material from Fox News, which is available to 85 percent of users, and ABC News, which 84 percent of mobile consumers can access, Mr. Shapiro said. Comedy Central has 40 percent penetration in mobile video, so demand is all the more impressive. Mobile downloads and the dollars that come with them will increase as more customers get mobile video, Mr. Shapiro noted.

So far, fewer than 10 percent of the consumers who have video access on their mobile phones use the service, according to David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS Corp., who spoke at an earlier panel at NATPE Mobile ++.

“We have all these people enabled with a new video opportunity and we have to get them to start using it,” he said.

The questions remains, he said, as to whether it will be a free, ad-supported or subscription model that finds the widest acceptance.

(Editor: Liff)