Oprah Launches Oprah Mobile

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With the launch of Oprah Mobile, the daytime TV queen appears to be laying the groundwork for a bigger push into digital media in advance of the debut of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on cable TV next year.

The App, optimized for the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Palm Pre phones, offers a window into Oprah’s media empire — including clips and previews from “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” weekly polls, articles and photos from O, The Oprah Magazine and Oprah.com, and her Twitter updates.

Released by Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, the Oprah Mobile app sells for $1.99 in the App Store. A spokesperson for the studio said Monday the app may extend to OWN, though it’s not yet decided. But that seems like a pretty good bet, given the increased emphasis her forthcoming cable channel will place on digital distribution. Robert Tercek, president of digital media for OWN, said the project will build new media into programming from the ground up.
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He also noted that OWN would carry over the core of a digital audience from past efforts like periodic live Web broadcasts of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Oprah Mobile would seem to fit that strategy to help cultivate a wider digital audience via smartphone users, which are estimated to make up as much as a quarter of all U.S. mobile subscribers.

Down the road, it’s not hard to envision a comparable Oprah app for the iPad to showcase her various properties and extend live programming and interactive features, including m-commerce, to mobile devices. Tercek last month waxed enthusiastic about the Apple tablet, pointing out the advantage it has over any competing gadget because it comes with the ability to run existing iPhone apps (which would now include Oprah Mobile).

Tercek will have to make sure Oprah doesn’t get too out in front of her audience — which he acknowledged isn’t exactly the early-adopter crowd — in embracing new mobile and digital tools. No need to worry about impressing Apple fanboys.

Offering Oprah Mobile for free instead of charging might’ve been a good way to start, for instance, but the new cable network’s creators will have to test different approaches and learn as they roll out Oprah 2.0.

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Mobile Marketing is a must for movie studios.

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Mobile has become a go-to channel for film and television studios looking to build buzz for a new movie or show.

To promote Frank Miller’s film “The Spirit,” Lionsgate launched an iPhone application letting consumers project themselves photo-realistically into the digital realm.

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“Mobile is always part of 360-degree marketing strategy for any new-release film that comes out, and increasing for new TV shows as well,” said Curt Marvis, president of digital media at Lionsgate, Santa Monica, CA.

“Our mobile strategy involves providing new, original content based on existing brands such as ‘Mad Men’ or ‘Weeds’ and figure out how to extend that through mobile channels,” he said. “We introduce new content via Web or via mobile or both, which encourages consumers to come back to traditional programming such as a theater or their TV.

“Mobile video is still in the early days, but we see a lot of potential.”

In addition to iPhone applications, Lionsgate has run SMS initiatives, mobile advertising campaigns, mobile sweepstakes, free mobile content and mobile video.

The studio is also working on releasing several gaming-based applications for the iPhone.

Overseas, Lionsgate has launched shows that were financed exclusively through revenues generated from mobile, and Mr. Marvis believes that in two-to-three years the mobile commerce ecosystem may be mature enough in the U.S. to generate massive mobile content sales.

“Definitely we’re huge believers in the mobile channel as a video channel, and the bandwidth will have a lot to do with that, but the concerns about the small screen-size are bullshit,” Mr. Marvis said.

As evidence he cited the “incredible” number of TV episodes consumers have bought via iTunes to watch on their iPhone.

Mr. Marvis also believes that mobile payments using one’s handset will be a game changer. He was excited about ARL/VRL audio-based location technology that integrates voice recognition and mobile coupons.

“You’ll be able to say a brand name or movie title, find where the closest retailer is or the closest theatres that are showing that movie, also giving you a $1 off coupon,” Mr. Marvis said. “There are some of the things we see going forward becoming really valuable for us.”

Also, better devices and better networks will mean more opportunities for brands to reach consumers via mobile and provide better content and a better experience.

“Once bandwidth starts to expand, five years from now the mobile channel will be a massively important contributor to our revenue,” Mr. Marvis said. “It will probably revolve around the forward-going notion among consumers that everything’s free, and the entire entertainment business is faced with different models to cope with that.

“There will be subscription services such as TV anywhere, where cable is also available on subscribers’ cell phone wherever they are, and it will be much more ad driven than it will be transactionally driven—brought to you by brand X, Y and Z,” he said.

Great Studio in Tokyo

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please check out Nick Wood’s studios at his new website…there is lots of good work featured including some award winning music for TVCs.
Nick Wood and Gentemann