BeeTV makes Revision3 seem sooo last-decade.
BeeTV, a joint venture of NTT Docomo and entertainment company Avex Group Holdings (and not to be confused with Milan-based video personalization service bee.tv), is making waves in Japan with its all-original mobile TV content. In its first year, says AdAge, the broadcast company has grabbed more than 1.13 million subscribers paying $3 per month to watch dramas, comedies, and other types of shows created exclusively for cell phones. That adds up to $3.49 million in subscription revenue alone. With an e-commerce experiment in the works, and interest from advertisers to place commercials, BeeTV could soon exemplify how to monetize mobile video.
What’s really interesting is that BeeTV treats the cell phone as its own medium–not just a catchall for popular TV programs and second-rate “made exclusive for mobile” content. It’s not unlike Revision3, a top quality production company that gambled on the Internet eventually supplanting television as the home entertainment platform of choice, creating numerous original online shows with their own cult following. But while Revision3’s shows don’t command much mainstream viewing, BeeTV is already a hit among women ages 20 to 40 with highly disposable incomes. That means advertisers such as Cover Girl (an extremely popular “foreign” cosmetic brand in Japan that commands premium prices) could be looking to spend money to place commercials within broadcasts. Since these hot shows can only be seen on mobile phones, the fee for commercials could command a premium, too.
The possibilities are breathtaking, marketing-wise, yet no one really saw it coming. “When BeeTV first launched, our media buyers thought it wouldn’t last,” Tokyo-based Dave McCaughan, senior VP-director of strategic planning, Asia/Pacific at McCann WorldGroup, told AdAge. “There’s so much going on in this area and they thought it was too expensive, but BeeTV keeps adding new subscriptions and has helped NTT Docomo attract people from other carriers.” Next up is a test combining product placement with Internet shopping: When a program featuring certain items ends, viewers will be able to go to a web link to purchase the items.
In the United States, mobile TV is still years behind Korea and Japan. Compelling offerings are usually limited to specific devices, and carriers’ services are mostly 5-minute clips from, or about, popular traditional TV shows. BeeTV proves that content quality and relevancy to its audience, along with exclusivity, is what will make consumers watch–and thus draw advertisers.