The U.S.’ Next Big Thing: SMS-TV

By | March 15, 2005

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.

4 thoughts on “The U.S.’ Next Big Thing: SMS-TV

  1. jangelo

    Ahh, SMS-TV. Quite a big hit here in the Philippines, where the internet penetration rate is quite low, but almost everyone has a mobile phone. Quite a number of “reality” programs support SMS-voting of some sort. Cable companies offer dedicated SMS-chat services, while some regular TV stations switch to SMS-chat mode after regular programming (i.e. from midnight until signing-on at 5 a.m.).

    National broadsheets (i.e. Philippine Star – have regularly featured SMS-based reader feedbacks. Quite a rudimentary feedback mechanism for established media, but a good start.

  2. joycecom

    SMS TV — United States — is actually here in various betas/trials and proof of concepts. A company called showed a band concert — think it was Yellowcard (OC band) on ON DEMAND cable channel in Devember and they have several other upcoming events. Also TV Guide actually co-produced with Goldpocket technology a version of SMS TV for their Academy Awards special with Joan and Melissa — I know I know– but it really wasa chance for viewers to SMS in their messages and then Melissa read some of them and answered some on air and they did do live polls. I wrote about this for
    Fox TV supposedly included SMS TV options in a New Years even show that it did 2 years ago — and they got about a dozen marriage proposals. Watch for more of this soon. js.

  3. adfas

    this is ollllddd stuff in Poland.
    SMS-voting is so old, that even jokes about SMS-voting are old.

  4. P. Strømsnæs

    The so-called “sms-tv” is really old stuff in Norway. Here we have had this thing for about 5 years and it’s still huge.


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