Mobisodes: Deal-Driven, Knee-Jerk, Destined for Failure

 Seems like every hour on the hour, we learn about more deals to bring full feature-length, short films, television series to next-generation cell phones.Sometimes this is special programming, other times they are "mobisodes," which are short video programs based on an existing tv series or movie.

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Seems like every hour on the hour, we learn about more deals to bring full feature-length, short films, television series to next-generation cell phones.

Sometimes this is special programming, other times they are "mobisodes," which are short video programs based on an existing tv series or movie. 

Just yesterday, in fact, News Corp., which owns Fox, signed a deal to create 26 mobisodes based on Fox's "Prison Break." 

SprintNextel will be the carrier, and Toyota will be the sponsor.

OK, let's get beyond the "cool" of all of this, people and ask ourselves why all of this is happening.

Certainly this isn't because of demand. In fact, as the NPD Group noted in a study released yesterday, only one percent of cell subscribers are using their phones to watch video.

But then let us look at another report that came out yesterday. Disney-ABC Television Group's Touchtone Television inked a deal with the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America for mobisode payments.

We're talking residuals, advances, and separate payments for actors. Screen Actors Guild Members get more money if the mobisode they work on is ad-supported.

So what do I make of all of this?

Cell carriers love the extra minutes and extra fees.

Cell phone manufacturers love this enhanced content as something that will convince consumers to accelerate their product upgrade cycle.

Talent loves the idea of mobisodes because of the additional revenue stream. 

Sponsors reflexively think that just because everyone in the demographic range they are trying to reach has a cell with them all the time, they are going towatch this stuff. 

But here's the contradiction. Two of them, actually:

Handset screens are too small to show steady, panoramic action;

You're dealing with an easily distracted, constantly on the move, target audience with a relatively short attention span.

Of course, the mobisode complex doesn't see this. They have been seduced by the "cool," the mental masturbation hype that comes from talking to each other, the self-predictive focus groups, as well as fear that if they don't try this, others will beat them to the punch.

But in this environment where everyone is wow-ing each other with deals, deals, deals, one fact is plain:

Mobisodes are a fad that will never take off.

"Prison Break?"

Give me a break. 

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