In recent years, NBC Universal’s mobile strategy has focused largely on helping carriers get its content to consumers.
Now that strategy is subtly changing.
Carrier partnerships are still "critical to what we do," Salil Dalvi, NBC Universal’s general manager for wireless said at yesterday’s Mobile Entertainment Summit. "But we also think we need to go out to market with great integration between web, TV networks and mobile phone."
Take NBC’s hit show Heroes. This year, fans have had a series of new cross-platform ways to interact with the program, including a toll-free number for the fictitious paper company Primatech Paper revealed during the Jan. 22 episode; and the launch of a dedicated WAP site designed to give them "two-screen" interaction with the content, including downloads and texting campaigns.
At the same time, the linear show can also be viewed on the NBC2Go channel on Verizon and soon AT&T.
The campaign points to how video and other rich media content will increasingly move beyond the closed decks of mobile carriers to the mobile Internet.
Until now, U.S. carriers have kept tight control of mobile content on their networks, fearing that allowing third parties to freely create their own mobile services will cut them out of the revenue stream.
That attitude means that "content owners do not see majority of money that goes to carriers", Dalvi notes, contrasting with the much more equitable split programmers get in cable or satellite.
It creates a disincentive for Hollywood studios to make their content available on mobile — to say nothing of small, mobile-only content creators struggling just to survive.
The burgeoning off-deck revenue of European carriers suggests that American operators’ fears of being locked out of the mobile content chain are groundless. They may end up with a smaller piece of the pie. But the pie will be orders of magnitude greater if they loosen their grip.