[NY Times] It might be hard to imagine watching “The Office” on a screen no bigger than a business card. But tens of thousands of people — by the most conservative estimate — are already doing just that.
As Hollywood shrinks its films and television shows for the small screens of cellphones, its assumptions about mobile viewing are being upended by surprisingly patient consumers.
“We all thought they’d be watching video clips in the checkout line or between classes,” said Vivi Zigler, the president for digital entertainment at NBC Universal, summing up the industry’s conventional wisdom. But owners of iPhones and other smartphones are actually watching long episodes and sometimes complete films, so a growing number of media companies are vying for people’s mobile attention spans.
Measured against TV ratings and box-office receipts, the mobile video audience is tiny today, but a range of companies, from Hollywood studios to local TV stations, all foresee an increasingly wireless world — and they don’t want to be cut out of the picture.
Some TV shows, like “The Office” on NBC.com, are streamed at no charge now, but there is a gnawing fear among media companies that they may be leaving money on the table by relying solely on revenue from advertising. And there is always the concern — whether it be on the Internet or on phones — that the new platforms could cannibalize the companies’ core businesses.
Accordingly, much of the mobile TV experimentation is happening on the paid side, through packages sold by individual carriers like AT&T and Verizon and through subscription services that will be coming soon.
“The economics around this are exhausting,” Ms. Zigler said.
Audiences, and Hollywood, Flock to Smartphones