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Post-Olympics mobile TV audience hungry for more

Because the Beijing Games dramatically increased the audience for mobile TV, Scripps Networks is striking while the iron is still hot. Last week at the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment show, the lifestyle media company announced a new partnership with Verizon — Scripps Networks' first on-deck carrier deal — to deliver through V CAST. Two channels as well as Food Network, HGTV, DIY and Fine Living content will also be included.

"Because of heightened excitement around the Olympics and the dramatic success of the iPhone, we really believe the third screen has arrived," said Deanna Brown, president of Scripps Networks Digital.

The post-Olympics market is a "good place to play," Brown said. "Learn from the near past and partner for the future. It’s a good time to be in a lifestyle space. What we started are small initiatives to test the waters between WAP sites and iPhone apps; we've been experimenting. Post-Olympics, there are partnerships that have presented themselves — the phones are ringing; our brands need our categories regardless of the train.”

It's not only Olympics audience growth that makes now the time for mobile TV. "The smart devices’ incredible growth allows us to do a great job in providing solutions for consumers," she said.

"We're excited about the adoption by women in the 26-54 bracket who have truly embraced the mobile lifestyle. They're on the go, they're solutions-oriented and they'll grab content anywhere possible. It's very natural for them to seek us out on the third screen — WAP sites are becoming common."

But it's not just putting fixed-line TV programming on the small screen. For mobile programming to succeed, you have to pay attention to the user experience,” Brown said. "It’s understanding the notion that someone's on the go and has an incredibly short attention span. Like video tips on snacks — you want super short-form video, Food Net on grilling. You want access to recipes if you're trying to answer life's most important question: What's for dinner? You want access to the Food Network recipe database — a quick link."

Another element is leveraging the communication capabilities of the phone. "We're using SMS technology to complement the viewing experience of a show with the opportunity to text and engage with the talent for how-tos, using different assets from our library of content," Brown said. "Think short, think resource or solution, think interactive. The difference for Food Network is the combination of those elements — video clips that go along with the recipe and our talent."

But while Brown sees a clear direction for content, she’s making no predictions about whether the free-to-air or subscription model will prevail. "In general, it's too early to tell which model is going to play out in the US... We're testing both models — ad-supported, premium paid. At this stage we're just learning. It's early for us; it's early for the industry. As we start to think about global penetration, mobile is going to be a huge part of that."

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