How are cell phones changing TV?

Handheld TV

One of the major ways that the smartphone is changing television is through its ability to act as a mini TV right in your pocket. With services like Netflix and Hulu available on phones, you can watch whole episodes, movies and even live TV on the go. TV-enabled phones have been around for almost a decade, but high costs and low video quality have kept many cell phone users away -- until recently. MobiTV was one of the first companies to deliver live, as well as downloadable, TV content to cell phones, and it now boasts millions of users. Thanks to less expensive data plans and better smartphone technology, it's cheaper, easier and more enjoyable to watch TV on cell phones than ever before.

While most people still prefer watching television on a full-size screen, networks have noticed an increase in viewers who are checking out content on their cell phones, and they're working to adapt.

Some companies are creating standalone series of "mobisodes," or mini TV shows, for cell phone users. Voltage, a Japanese company, creates soap operas specifically scripted and shot for cell phone viewing. For the most part, though, networks don't really see themselves as competing with cell phones for viewers. Instead, they've started tailoring content just for cell phones. Many networks see these so-called mobisodes as added value for the cell phone user: a way to keep viewers engaged in shows even when they're not watching TV. The ABC series "Lost" is a great example of a network using mobisodes to engage fans beyond just the weekly show. ABC produced 13 "Lost Missing Pieces," which provided viewers with extra clues and more backstory about the show to keep them talking about "Lost" throughout the week.

Will smartphones spell the end of television? Probably not, but since technology continues to blur the lines between TV and cell phones, we're sure to see even more innovation as the television industry works to keep up.

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