C4 is highly unlikely to back down over paid-for Big Brother online content: the show’s brand and format are ideally suited to the medium. Online clips, mobile ring tones and SMS updates should all bring in strong revenues. In future, broadcasters could even offer mobile video clips, as long as 3G’s European launch comes before the format’s demise.
UK broadcaster Channel 4 is facing protests over its decision to charge online Big Brother viewers.
UK viewers of real-life TV soap Big Brother have launched a protest against broadcaster Channel 4’s decision to charge online viewers GBP10 per month.
C4 is showing highlights from the new series on free TV, with full coverage on its pay-TV channel and the Internet. The broadcaster is also offering SMS updates on how the series is progressing, charging 25p a time or GBP5 for a month’s subscription, as well as selling mobile phone ringtones and logos.
Viewers are not happy with the move: 1,700 people have signed an online petition opposing the charging decision. However, C4 would be foolish to cave in.
Making revenues from online video content has so far proved hard. The offering must be bite-sized for technological reasons: viewing a full movie over a streamed connection is impractical, and downloading one takes significant time (even for ADSL or cable modem users).
But since an effective micro payment system for short clips has not yet emerged, the best moneymaking opportunities combine several small pieces of content into a single offering. Big Brother is an excellent example: nobody will watch for 24 hours solidly, but many people will dip in for a couple of minutes a few times a day.
The mobile content offering also looks strong: ring tones, logos and SMS updates have been the strongest drivers of mobile data revenues, particularly among Big Brother’s core youth audience. Overall, C4 has an excellent complementary multi-channel Big Brother range.
Such strong integration also raises a possible future opportunity for broadcasters and mobile operators, such as the show’s sponsor mmO2: mobile Big Brother clips, showing the highlights anywhere, at any time, could encourage people to sign up for mobile streaming video services. As long as the show isn’t already forgotten by the time 3G launches in Europe…
Related research: Datamonitor, 2002: Is the Internet reaching maturity?
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