Crashing into mobile video

Did you know watching mobile video on you cell phone or PDA can be harmful to your health? Yep, reports are now surfacing that people are bumping into

Did you know watching mobile video on you cell phone or PDA can be harmful to your health? Yep, reports are now surfacing that people are bumping into lampposts while staring at their cell phone screens.

As broadcasters contemplate entering into the exciting world of mobile video, do we as an industry do so without regard to our viewers' health? Should we pause, or stop mobile video's adoption, to protect our fellow human? Do we have a duty to protect humanity from its own stupidity?

I pondered these lofty issues while reading a recent study conducted by the UK directory service 118 118. The service discovered that mobile text users were often crashing into lampposts, sometimes injuring themselves while text messaging.

The company received permission to install padded wraps on lampposts in key sections of London. In trade, it gets to place advertising for its directory service. I suppose if you bump into the post, you'd pretty much have to see the ad.

Thinking about the similarities of texting and watching mobile video, I wondered if a similar problem could occur here with regard to mobile TV? Would unsuspecting viewers bump into lampposts while enjoying their favorite YouTube or FOX News videos? Would they wander into signs or perhaps miss crosswalk lights, only to be struck by cars?

Imagine the potential for chaos in downtown Manhattan as millions of people rush to and from home, shops and their offices, noses pointed at mobile phones and players — no one watching where they were going. And with earphones, they wouldn't hear the screams of “Watch out!” Oh, the humanity of it!

Now, picture thousands of your station's viewers walking, or driving, heads down, noses perched just inches from those tiny cell phone and mobile video player screens. Your viewers could be heedless to the dangers that lie just ahead.

Can you hear the traffic reports? “There's a mash up on the corner of 12th and Johnson, where 22 people crashed together as a hotdog vendor moved his cart into the crosswalk. Pedestrians and drivers are encouraged to avoid this intersection.”

This scenario may sound ridiculous, but how many times have you already done something similar? Have you ever text messaged someone or manually dialed your mobile phone while driving? Cops call that distracted driving and give tickets for it.

At my gym, perhaps 75 percent of the members have iPods strapped to their arms and earphones stuck in their ears. Even though there are 10 televisions in front of the cardio machines, most members want to make their own entertainment choices. Mobile TV will be used likewise.

Despite the potential drawbacks, I hope broadcasters make a business of delivering video to mobile receivers. And, when they do, I'll become a mobile video customer. I just hope those padded lampposts are around so when I bump into one, it's only my pride that gets hurt.