A new method of content delivery is making noise in the U.K. mobile market this summer, and it should score points with kids for its simplicity since it’s all about plug-and-play.
ROK Entertainment has developed a technology using digital video chips that slot into a phone’s multi-media memory card holder (MMC) to deliver full-screen TV series, movies and music videos. ‘It combines a device you already have with the functionality of an iPod and a portable DVD player, so its potential is massive,’ says marketing director Bruce Renny.
The chips are compatible with any phone with an MMC slot, and they deliver 120 to 130 kilobits (or 24 frames) a second. Playability doesn’t depend on clear phone reception, and there are no additional airtime charges involved, although the chips are a little pricey at between US$15 and US$25 a pop. But given that the cost of blank MMCs (US$11) has already come down by about 40% in the past year, Renny says ROK’s chips could drop to US$5 in the next few years.
Since the product’s spring launch in phone stores across the U.K., ROK has released 35 titles and intends to have 100 out by the end of the year. Roughly 50 of these will be music-based, and 20 will be kids TV episodes from the likes of Cartoon Network, Aardman Animations, Granada and Nickelodeon. Renny is looking to roll out a couple new kids titles each month, so he’s on the hunt for content and is particularly interested in shows that have already been dubbed into Europe’s most prevalent languages since ROK is planning to expand into Germany, France and Italy in September. Shorter eps of 12 minutes, 22 minutes or 30 minutes also work best because they can be bundled into one or two hours per chip.
Granada licensing director Martin Lowde says the ROK player offers unique cross-marketing opportunities for delivering extra content to a user you know is already interested in your property. ‘We can go direct to the consumer for delivery of a secondary batch of content,’ he says. ‘For example, once someone has watched a movie, why not play the game? It could be downloaded through the phone or unlocked from the chip using a code.’
Granada is also planning to do collectible phone-based premiums, particularly around its music magazine programming. For example, each chip in a magazine-style music series might come with collector’s set of information on a featured artist, including new tracks, interviews and concerts, and it could also twig kids to corresponding downloads like MP3s.