Mobile technology has been rapidly changing the world since data first became an option on cell phones. Through most of the march of technology content providers have been reacting to changes in the market. Now it appears content providers are more willing to forge their own path in mobile media instead of dealing with a middleman aggregator like Hulu or iTunes.
The gold rush in mobile media has been building for a long time as years of fighting for revenue with more traditional entertainment pipelines, such as cable and satellite, have left both sides weary and annoyed at one another. Entertainment providers are growing increasingly hesitant to deal with aggregators and feel that mobile entertainment offers them the ability forge their own path forward.
Networks are starting to dip their toe in the direct to mobile market. CBS is making full episodes available through streaming apps on the iPhone and iPads, although the episodes aren’t available until 24 hours after the show airs on television and are delayed by 8 days for prime time shows.
ABC just announced their first app aimed at live streaming to Apple devices and Windows 8, but they’re pushing it more aggressively with their app syncing up with their cable and satellite providers to provide live content on the go. You can bet that ABC’s parent company, Walt Disney, is looking for ways to forge their own entertainment distribution channels as well and will be monitoring ABC’s experience closely.
Android apps are supposedly in the works and should be popping up later this year.
The mobile content land grab is on in force and I believe that when the dust settles this will be a big plus for consumer choice. Content providers will be free to deal directly with consumers rather than forge relationships with middleman providers, eliminating another layer of profit between consumers and their favorite shows.
Another side effect of the great mobile land grab will also be the democratization of content development. Independent developers will be able to bypass the lengthy and frustrating process of trying to negotiate distribution deals and make their pitch directly to consumers.
In the end it will mean more choice and more competition, at least at first. Eventually the forces of Balkanization will consolidate choices in the mobile market, just like they did in broadcast and internet technologies. But that will take time and in the meantime, we will have more choices.
The interesting question to me is that TV on a smartphone is not much different than carrying a small portable TV. Maybe some consumers are starting to think they already watch too much TV and this will be a step too far. Either way look for the mobile push to make big changes in the worlds of technology and entertainment.