Daniel Tibbets, GoTV Labs
As technology improves mobile phones, content will become increasingly sophisticated.Having held senior executive positions in production and development at CBS Enterprises and Twentieth Television's Foxlab, among others, Daniel Tibbets knows content. In his current executive vp role at GoTV Labs, he has used his eye for story to create the original mobisode drama series "Love and Hate" and "The Sunset Hotel," which air on the company's mobile TV network. Recently, Tibbets spoke with Debra Kaufman for The Hollywood Reporter about the challenges of the supersmall screen and the future of mobile content.
The Hollywood Reporter: What did you learn from your experience at Foxlab about what will and won't work on the mobile platform?
Daniel Tibbets: Basically, I'd say -- and this holds true for today -- that "made for mobile" isn't just a buzzword; it is actually a scientific and creative process that enables a rich consumer viewing experience of content. There are certain video limitations and viewer patterns that you have to consider when producing for mobile. From the beginning, we looked at it as an on-the-go experience. You have to limit mobile content to something that can begin and end in five minutes.
THR: Can mobile entertainment ever be more than "snacking"?
Tibbets: The phone today is capable of more than just video clips, or snacking. What GoTV has developed and deployed are several downloadable video applications; what that means is a broadband quality of video programming that delivers interactivity, personalization and customization. I think, creatively, what's fascinating about it is that we're not talking about one-dimensional programming or video content of traditional storytelling -- we're talking about a combination of traditional shortform snacking, but also all the other abilities of the phone to create a unique experience. Going back to the mobisode, the first one was called "Love and Hate," and there were 26 one-minute episodes that had a story arc for an entire season. It wasn't just 26 minutes of a half-hour sitcom cut up; it followed our characters over a four-month period. It was, however, a passive, single-viewing experience and didn't have all the other attributes I just mentioned. Today, I look at the mobile platform as a much more multidimensional opportunity to tell stories.
THR: Does entertainment for the mobile platform open the door to more independent production?
Tibbets: People have cameras on their cell phones today, and we're already seeing images and information being reported back by the average person who is at an event or witnesses something. Whether it's broadband, mobile or TV, that's an ongoing phenomenon that will grow. Mobile presents a great opportunity for independent producers, including individual consumers. Some of GoTV's content has been generated from user-generated platforms that we look to license or produce for mobile. We feel the big hits on mobile will be content that is not on television now.
THR: What other distribution platforms do you envision during the coming years?
Tibbets: Technology will increase the functionality of the phone: The screens, the speakers, the video on the phones will improve at a very rapid rate. I don't think there is any one device that will corner this market; I believe there will be plenty of options for consumers to choose what's best for them. Our key is to produce and distribute the content to all those devices.
THR: What developments do you see in mobile media's future?
Tibbets: Everyone will have the capability of watching video on his or her mobile device. The key is: Will there be content that they want to watch? The element of success for any platform is putting the consumers in control so they can watch what they want, where they want and when they want. That will be a reality in 10 years.