Hyperlocal Video Isn’t Ready for “Take-Out”

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If you want to know where broadcast content is headed on location-aware devices, Scott Lindenbaum, co-founder and president of Broadcastr, suggests you look no further than your car dashboard.

“There’s a reason car televisions never replaced car radios,” he said. “Video in motion is impractical and rather dangerous.” Audio worked because it worked on the go, in motion, allowing the user to remain focused on the present reality (the road) augmented by the content delivered over the radio.

Motion, distraction and several factors about the nature of video and the audience’s expectations for content on-the-go, putting video at a similar disadvantage in the hyperlocal media space.

For now video producers like television stations, are still waiting for a platform and business model to shake out, but, more significantly, according to Lindenbaum, they’re trying to figure out if there is anything they can add to mobile content that isn’t just duplicating the Internet experience. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a play for visual content to take advantage of location-aware services like his own Broadcastr, but an obvious solution has yet to present itself.

“The goal of video is is to simulate a reality. It’s figurative and it’s Hi-Def. Everything about it strove to be as real as possible,” he said. “If you are out in the world and engaging with the place, its already real. The big challneg in the mobile age is if you already in reality, it’s as real as it can get. What is video bringing to that table?”

“Dine-in” or “take-out”?
For Lindenbaum, it comes down to audience expectations for content based on where they are. His description sounded a lot like diners expectations based on whether they chose to “dine-in” or “take out.”

“When you consume content on the PC you are essentially trying to be transported somewhere,” he said. “You might be at home and you want to know more about Fort Greene, in Brooklyn, or France. So you find content that takes you there and video might be part of that.” That sounds a lot like “dine-in” — you’re consuming content in a controlled, stationary environment. Mobile requires content fit for “take-out.”

“There’s a reason car televisions never replaced car radios,” says Broadcastr’s Scott Lindenbaum. “Video in motion is impractical and rather dangerous.”

“With mobile, you say ‘suddenly I need to know something about where I am right now’ and you want it to augment your experience, not replace it. ‘I am somewhere. Something is happening. I need media to make better. I look to device.’

“If am actually in Fort Green at [the Brooklyn Academy of Music] and I want more information from a content source and if I have to watch a video, I am no longer engaged in the whole experience of being there. The experience is now an Internet experience on a phone, instead of an augmented experience that takes advantage of the mobile device.”

The challenge
Television stations and video producers who want to take advantage of hyperlocal platforms like Broadcastr must find a way to be take-out. They need to find a way to be consumed on the go in a way that adds to the reality the users is already in and doesn’t distract the user from it.

“This is all still very new,” Lindenbaum said. “It wasn’t until very recently that cell service had enough bandwidth to stream video to any place and it wasn’t until the iPhone 4 and 3G that it became part of popular culture to even have that option. You’re talking less than two years ago.”