MTV Redesigns Itself for the Tiny Screen
“A boyish-looking 41-year-old man wearing jeans and a green-and-purple-striped sweater was in the room recently one spring morning because just a few months earlier MTV redrew its organizational chart and gave him a new job it considers extremely important, one with the unwieldy title of executive vice president for multiplatform production, news and music. Translated, it means that he is the guy responsible for figuring out how his network will continue to thrive creatively, and thus financially, in a world where television’s center of gravity seems to be rapidly shifting, away from immobile TV sets and toward roving screens: laptops, P.D.A.’s, iPods, game players and, most important, cellphones.
“The shift is not simply changing the way the medium looks and feels. Even now, in its infancy, mobile video is starting to make the very definition of television, as a place where people watch ‘shows’ on ‘channels,’ sound pleasantly anachronistic, like a description from an old issue of Popular Mechanics. It may also be creating a new way to make a whole lot of money: one model projects that the worldwide market for mobile television will be $27 billion by 2010.
“By the most optimistic counts, there are only about 3 million people out of the almost 200 million cellphone users in the United States who now watch video on their phones. Other analysts say the number of those who watch regularly is much lower. Judging by what is happening in other parts of the world, where the mobile-television experiment is well under way, the more pertinent questions are: What are they going to want to watch? Will it be regular live television, redirected to their phones? Or typical television fare, edited and re-packaged to suit a screen smaller than a business card?
“It might end up being neither, but instead a new amalgam that feels little like traditional television and more like the increasingly video-dominated Web — like computer games, like the kind of shaggy user-generated video and mashed-up video clips that began as novelties for people killing time in their cubicles but are now on their way to becoming big business.”
Randy Kennedy. The Shorter, Faster, Cruder, Tinier TV Show. The New York Times Magazine. May 28, 2006.
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