No question that the U.S. is ahead on lots of cool stuff, but it has yet to be subjected to the world of SMS-TV. SMS-TV is when TV programmes let viewers vote, or submit competition entries, by text message, usually via a premium number. I have to admit I’ve never done this, but a lot of TV programs have it now, both in Asia and Europe, and it’s clearly a big revenue earner.
Says Idan Miller, SVP at zone4play, an SMS-TV supplier: “While SMS-TV isn’t yet a household product in the U.S., throughout Europe it is huge, and the U.S. is next. For [reality show] ‘Big Brother’ in the U.K., they charged $.25 per SMS and got about 100 million SMS messages throughout the season. For many mobile carriers in the U.S., it can be a major growth area in income.” Earning $25 million for audience interaction? Not bad.
It’s not just about money. “Big TV networks can also benefit as they crave ways to get their viewers to talk back and stay engaged with content brands. The loyalty engendered may be even more valuable to a TV industry that is suffering declining network viewership and fragmented attention spans,” says Miller.