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Volume 23 No. 13
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What’s next for sports on mobile?

Kiswe CEO sees opportunity to build viewing communities

Television in the 1990s was known for “Must-See TV,” when mass audiences would watch the same shows at the same time. Early in the 2000s, mobile video started to take off, and the mass audiences disappeared. People would watch shows alone via their mobile device.

Now, Kiswe CEO Mike Schabel predicts another change that, in a way, combines those two. He believes people are going to start watching video as a community again — only this time via digital.

“Through our data, we’ve come to this deep realization that the magic is when you bring together the group of friends who can actually go into a private digital living room, if you will,” he said. “It’s a private mobile room just with each other, consuming whatever content we want and interacting with each other digitally. We call these private hangs, but it’s a private mobile room.”

A New Jersey-based company launched five years ago by engineers from Bell Labs and Alcatel-Lucent, Kiswe has been developing technology to modernize how sports are presented on mobile networks.

It’s more than setting up a private virtual room, Schabel said. Instead, producers need to do a better job tailoring video for a mobile audience, which does not watch video in the same way. Schabel has found that when companies add interactive elements (such as picking different camera angles or communicating with friends), the time viewers spend watching video in this environment skyrockets.

“We’re tech geeks making our own content, and we’re getting an average of 20 minutes per day per user,” he said. “That’s a lot when you start to think about what typical video consumption is on even sports-based content. It’s nowhere near. We know when you add those elements, it’s a winner.”