PCCW is banking on its world-famous NOW TV brand to bring TV (and music) to the phone. Janice Lee, VP of marketing and content development for NOW TV at PCCW, tells editor John C Tanner how it's done
Charged: PCCW's NOW Broadband TV has turned a lot of heads - how has it weathered the transition to mobile‾
Janice Lee: We don't offer all 130 channels, of course - just around 12 to 15 channels. That will grow, but we didn't want to inundate our customers right off. And with the small screen size and being outside the home environment, we felt we need to be more selective. The first phase of NOW on mobile was sports and news, things people would want on the go. The second phase includes children's channels such as Cartoon Network, and Fashion TV and Discovery Channel, which are mainly about killing time. The Cartoon Network is quite popular in that regard because for parents, it's something of a pacifier! [laughs]
Charged: You run a mix of linear rebroadcast and specially formatted programs for mobile - how do you decide which channels can run live and which ones need reformatting‾
Janice Lee: For news and sports, people want that information live. There's not much point in doing a loop because you want up-to-the-minute information, or in the case of sports, people want to see the live game because they're not home. For the formatted content, we work with the content providers on that. For example, the Cartoon Network content is customized for mobile - it's a four hour loop they've done for us. One reason for that is the amount of time people spend on mobile watching content isn't going to be the same amount of time they'd spend at home, so it's better to do shorter snippets.
Charged: NOW TV is constantly looking to add new innovations like more interactive programming, on-demand video - how much of that is making its way to mobile‾
Janice Lee: I should step back a bit and explain how we see mobile fitting overall into NOW TV. Putting TV on mobile serves two purposes: one, it enhances and differentiates our 3G service. In Hong Kong a lot of the other 3G players are competing on price and they see content as a promotional tool, but for us content is our core business, so we're very serious about it. And that's reflected in the way we price our 3G offering.