Like the tip of an iceberg, sometimes the smallest headline can reveal the large mass hidden from view. Case in point: a headline in today’s BusinessWire reads, LIN TV First in Local Markets to Launch Mobile Application for BlackBerry. Translation: A syndicate of local broadcast TV stations is launching a smart phone application to deliver local news content to BlackBerry users. Have a read: " LIN TV is the first in its local markets to provide instantaneous and on-demand access to its local news, sports and entertainment, as well as video, weather forecasts and traffic reports to BlackBerry smartphone subscribers."
Senior Analyst and Editor
Eureka! The new age broadcasting’s reason d’etre, in a mechanism that empowers local stations to do what they do best, deliver meaningful real-time data to viewers, and monetize the service through revenue from both local and national advertisers. Turns out that for local broadcasters, the path from "analog broadcast" to "digital narrowcasting" is through mobile delivery to smart phones, not over a dedicated wireless network, but through the internet backbone and web connected smart phones. And the BlackBerry announcement is just one more link in the chain of apps now gaining access to this valuable, local, real-time data.
Perhaps Christy Burgan, VP of UK’s mobile messaging giant Acision said it best, "Mobile advertising remains one of the most exciting developments in the mobile market today and one which opens the door for marketers to target their customers and prospects more directly through an entirely new channel. The rise of mobile as a means of advertising supports the ongoing shift of ad budgets from traditional marketing media, such as TV and radio, to more direct "below the line" forms, such as direct mail, E-mail and the Internet."
NOW (News Over Wireless), a Capitol Broadcasting Company New Media Group LLC, created mobile applications for the iPhone (and now other smart phone devices) and makes them available as a turnkey system for local broadcasters to customize. Here’s how NOW puts it, "After launching a mobile web site, NOW partners immediately generate revenue through national text and banner ads. This is made possible by NOW’s network of advertising partners - Third Screen Media, Millennial Media, Nokia and Google. The company created a custom ad router that makes ad calls to each partner to maximize revenue potential."
The group said local TV stations also generate ad revenue by selling ads locally with both stand alone and integrated ad packages - on-air, online and mobile. Ad buying options can include sponsorships, run-of-site and impression-based ads.
But it’s the delivery that is changing the face of mobile TV. Far from the vision of a stand-alone network controlled by the wireless carrier, where subscribers are forced to pay a premium for mobile video content (boosting average revenue per user ARPU), the "economics of free" is beginning to spread via wireless hot spots and 3G networks, first on iPhones and now BlackBerry devices, et al. A simple download of my local broadcaster loads up an app and voila, local TV on my iPhone—that’s free to me (OK "brought to you by…"), but that’s the same way we built out the very first (radio) and second (TV) broadcast networks—from ad revenue.
So wireless mobile devices have become a new target for local broadcasters savvy enough to realize that in the age where "Content is King," they are sitting on a treasure house of data and the in-house marketing know-how to monetize that content. (Caution, shameless self-promotion…) Look for an expanded story on this topic in the upcoming Mobile Display Report, coming in mid-August.