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September 23, 2006

The Office Mobile Content Through I-Play

The very popular NBC show The Office is breaking into mobile format, with the announcement last week that NBC Universal would be partnering with I-play, a mobile entertainment company, to offer short scenes from the workplace comedy on-demand for mobile customers.

These episodes, which will be one-to-two minutes in length, is an attempt to help "extend our audiences' experience with the brand," according to Universal Mobile Entertainment's Senior VP Jeremy Laws.

The payment model has not been released yet, although recent initiatives for mobile movie content by Sprint have offered both a subscription option and a pay-per-view on-demand option.

As Henry Jenkins wrote about earlier this month, NBC is already offering mobisodes of the popular comedy through its own site, so this deal with I-play indicates an even stronger presence in providing a cross-platform reach for its show.

However, while Laws indicates that the strength of this show is to extend the extant audience's "experience" with the Office brand, i think that doesn't mean much more than the standard quote for press releases like this. The power of this is not particularly in extending the reach of The Office, especially since this is not original content but repurposed one-or-two-minute segments from the show as it airs on television.

Instead, the power of a product like this is how it empowers the audience to proselytize, to recruit others into the fold. For Office fans who want to attract others to begin watching, who want to spread the word about the quality of the show, what better way than to have a clip from the show easily able to pull up on a mobile device? Nothing convinces someone of a show's humor better than a first-hand example.

Networks need to start thinking about framing these types of mobile products in this light, emphasizing the social side of mobile content and the ability it gives users to share their lovemarks with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

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