November 6, 2004 In the coming era of ubiquitous handheld wireless access to all media types, entertainment will inevitably be very different. One significant development in new media was the recent UK launch of an MMS soap opera designed for mobile telephone users. The new format from the same company which brought us Big Brother, involves fresh thinking about the new information and entertainment tools society has, or will soon have, at its disposal.
FanTESStic consists of 80 comic strip-style episodes and runs over a 16-week period. The storyline is based on a female DJ in Ibiza who has lost her identity and is struggling to get it back. In case you haven't guessed yet, her name is TESS.
Following successful trials in Spain and the Netherlands, Endemol launched the UK version of FanTESStic in the second week of September using international mobile services provider Opera Telecom's MMS development platform, M-Enable.
Peter Cowley, Director of Interactive Media at Endemol International, believes, "the broadcast industry is moving more and more in the direction of multi-platform content that steers away from TV-only formats.
The launch of FanTESStic demonstrates Endemol's continued dedication to this interactive market - few production companies can boast such aggressive investment in interactive development.
Cowley continued, "FanTESStic is a major breakthrough for Endemol. We hope to gain both technical confidence in our ability to roll out MMS services through a reliable partner and ascertain the level of consumer acceptance of MMS-based content. Opera Telecom is leading the way in getting MMS to the mass market and was therefore the obvious choice of partner for us."
Endemol is working with Opera Telecom on a zero-cost-of-entry, revenue share basis, with Opera Telecom managing delivery and billing from its operations centre in Birmingham and using its M-Enable platform to create and launch the complex MMS service. Endemol has complete visibility of traffic at all times.
Cowley continues, "There has been a complete transformation in the way in which people interact with the media. People with broadband connections use the Internet more than they watch TV, while young people brought up with sophisticated mobile phones are very receptive to watching TV on the phone in the future. There are significant challenges in doing this but, as with any new service, getting the delivery and quality of service right first time is essential."
Cowley concludes, "When the UK market is susceptible to receiving daily MMS data, we have a number of other MMS and mobile video projects that we are planning to launch. We will continuously aim to be one step ahead of the multimedia landscape and Opera Telecom will continue playing a major part in helping us achieve this."
Mobile viewers of the FanTESStic MMS soap opera are charged at 50p per episode or UKP£1.50 for five episodes, with the charges appearing on the viewer's monthly mobile phone bill.
Endemol UK annually produces over 8000 hours of programming for British TV making it the largest independent producer in the country.
Its production brands - ENDEMOL UK PRODUCTIONS, INITIAL, BRIGHTER PICTURES and ZEPPOTRON - are behind some of the biggest international TV hits to come out of the UK. These include BIG BROTHER (UK versions); RESTORATION; FAME ACADEMY; SHATTERED; THE SALON; THE GAMES; PARTY IN THE PARK; THE BAFTAS; FASHION ROCKS and READY STEADY COOK.
ENDEMOL UK also owns award winning digital media company, VICTORIA REAL and HAWKSHEAD - one of UK's leading corporate production companies.
The group is dedicated to ideas that work across a range of media including traditional and interactive TV, the Web, mobile phones, radio and DVD.
ENDEMOL UK employs up to 800 people at any one time and is part of Europe's leading television content multinational ENDEMOL, which spans 21 countries. ENDEMOL is 100% owned by Spanish telecoms and media giant TELEFONICA - the largest provider of telecom and internet services in the Spanish and Portuguese language world, with companies in 17 countries and more than 62 million customers.