LUCY HOOD, NEWS CORP.

Merging TV and the Mobile 'Third Screen'

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News Corp.’s Lucy Hood has a daughter and a son, but she’s also the mother of a number of key content innovations on the nascent "third screen": the introduction of text messaging to mass audiences on Fox’s American Idol and more recently the mobisode, a short piece of content specifically for the mobile phone.

Lucy Hood, senior vice president for content and marketing, News Corp.
“Our strategy is to be the first in innovation in the market,” says Ms. Hood, senior vice president for content and marketing. “For Fox, the ability to reach 1.5 billion users of handsets [worldwide] is a very compelling proposition.”

Content creation for cell phones
Ms. Hood pushed through the text messaging innovation on American Idol in partnership with Cingular Wireless. In the area of content created specifically for cell phones, she worked with Verizon Wireless earlier this year to produce three one-minute programs based on the hit TV series 24. The mobisodes, titled 24: Conspiracy, featured side stories to the thriller series. For an encore, Ms. Hood signed on with Verizon’s V Cast for a 26-mobisode series titled The Simple Life 3: Interns based on the show featuring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.

Although Ms. Hood and Verizon executives decline to discuss how many times the mobisodes were downloaded, the News Corp. executive says results were “very encouraging,” with the take-rate -- the percentage of the available audience buying the 99-cent mobisodes -- in the double digits, and those consumers often making multiple buys.

Each mobisode lasted just one minute, the length of time considered to be optimal for cell phone video-on-demand. Ms. Hood believes, however, that mobile video doesn’t necessarily have to abide by that limit. Fox, in fact, has signed with Sprint Corp. to run its Fox News Live broadcast.

More handsets than TVs
Ms. Hood argues that video content is a natural fit for the cell phone, especially now that technology is starting to provide other streams of video and the number of handsets in circulation worldwide has exceeded the number of homes with TVs. “This is a new format we are developing,” she says, noting that the phone is a very intimate device. Its killer app is “what I want, where I want it and when I want it,” she says.

Ms. Hood “is serving as an example to other studios of how to approach mobile,” says Paul Palmieri, executive director for program and business development at Verizon. He calls her a “visionary” with the creative smarts to conceive new formats and the “bravery” to see her ideas implemented.

A skier and sailor, she also practices yoga “to recover from the above,” she says. She needs it. Every day on the job, “my challenge is coming up with the next big thing.”

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