OLYMPIC SPECIAL REPORT: Going Mobile
Mobile devices continue to give sports rights owners new ways to keep in touch with fans and viewers and next week s Olympic games are no exception.
NBC, for its third games in a row, will rely on technology from Crisp Wireless to delivers a wealth of information and results about the games to Cingular Wireless subscribers.
We sit between the content provider and the carriers of the world, says Boris Fridman, Crisp Wireless CEO. And we deliver that content in a way that is optimized for the subscribers device.
The New York City-based company has a broad range of clients, from Fandango to USA Today. But its work in the sports industry continues to grow. Last summer Crisp Wireless helped American Express create a Wimbledon-related mobile application that outdrew an Internet-based site and it also provides the back-end technology for Club Tiger Mobile, a Java-based application that complements Tiger Woods official web site. Fans get breaking news, his tournament schedule, image galleries and video clips and even Tiger Tip to improve their game.
The Olympics campaign
Next week NBC Olympics will use Crisp Wireless to provide a similar service to the one used in 2004 for the Athens games. Crisp will integrate multiple content feeds coming in directly from Torino and will offer schedules and results for all events. Other features include medal counts, country and athlete profiles, streaming and downloadable video highlights and opt-in alerts for news and results by country and sport.
Because it lasts only three weeks we look at the Olympics as the equivalent of a campaign, says Fridman.
Campaign or not it will put Crisp Wireless to the test. In 2004 the company registered 1.5 million unique visitors during the Athens games. And given the growth in mobile devices that are data-enabled there is a good chance the numbers out of Torino will be higher.
The logic of mLogic
The company s technology is called mLogic, and it handles everything from reformatting content automatically to provide an optimal experience for each device as well as rights issues, payments, and even provisioning of content.
That s really important, says Fridman. You need to make sure that if the user crosses the border into Canada that they can t get the service because the rights to the Olympics are owned by another organization.
The service will be free thanks to advertising support, something Fridman believes is a necessity if mobile services are to survive. If you are a consumer you might have several subscriptions but you won t be able to pay for more than a couple, he says. So realistically if content providers want to grow new revenue they ll need an advertising model.
In fact, without advertising-based services Fridman says the potential growth for the entire market is constrained, not just an individual service. Today there is growth in subscription-based services because they re still new and the market isn t saturated, he says. But as it becomes saturated an advertising model will be required.
Advertising costs on mobile devices are still high, at about $40 per thousand versus $5-$10 for Internet services. That s why I believe there is tremendous revenue potential in advertising, he says.