Portable Video Ideal for Content Test

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The fledgling portable-video market may be an ideal test to see if consumers want their favorite TV shows -- in their entirety -- on the go, according to an analyst at New York-based ABI Research.

In the coming year, such downloadable-video content transferred to devices such as Apple Computer Inc.’s “iPod” and Sony Corp.’s “PlayStation Portable” will continue to include mostly short-form video such as clips, trailers and “mobisode” programs.

In a new report, ABI director of broadband, digital home and media research Vamsi Sistla said these early experiments in mobile-video content could also provide a valuable opportunity for programmers to test new shows before they hit the traditional TV airwaves.

"Over 70% of all new shows don't survive the first season,” he added. “The logic of trying short versions on emerging platforms at relatively low cost before committing to the expense of hour-long TV productions will soon be apparent to content owners."

If so, programmers could use such content as a sort of market survey, gauging viewer reaction to a shorter, portable-video version of a TV show to gauge whether the production merits a full investment, Sistla said.

TV brands including The Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and ABC have already started to experiment with short-format TV-video content, but “a network can save much more on upfront program-development costs than it will make by selling short clips for $1.99 each,” he added.

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