Mobile Drama Round-Up

** Last updated: 10th August, 2007**

I have previously provided a quick list of mobisodes and promised to update it. Well, here is a listing of mobile drama that is, was or will be available in specific countries and worldwide. Some are shows created specifically for mobiles, others are shows that are distributed via mobile, among other media; some are original programs and others are “spin-offs” or cross-media entertainment! I’ve only listed live-action drama, not mobile services that are linked in with the TV drama, that is another post. And this is not a definitive list, and without stats on usage since nobody releases that info. Please comment or email me additions you recommend. I’ve listed them in order of title.

[added 14th June:] What I didn’t highlight in the first version of this post that I’d like to point out now is that of the mobile dramas listed here, only one is exclusively on the mobile (based on info accessible). They are mostly multi-platform to varying degrees. Some, however, are providing the same information across the platforms — porting or providing multiple ‘touch-points’. Some are providing unique narrative information in each platform (with some porting too). So, I’ve decided to bundle these dramas according to the degree they’ve delved into ‘transmedia storytelling’ (in Henry Jenkins’ sense of providing unique narrative content).

Different Narrative, Different Media (Transmedia Storytelling)
These are mobile dramas that provide a unique story, among other stories in other platforms.

24: Conspiracy
The Fox Network has trademarked the term “mobisode”. The Fox Broadcasting Company have been creating spin-offs. The first was the mobisode: 24: Conspiracy, which has slowly been distributed through operators thoughout the world. Different actors and a unique storyline was created for this mobisode. [Fan created site — why don’t Fox have their own dedicated mobisode site for Conspiracy? Seems very stupid.]

Holly Oaks
Channel 4
 offer three types of content for mobile phones for the TV series Holly Oaks. Highlights of the series, HollyOaks Bitesize, are available through mobile phone or online; the same with the behind the scenes content in HollyOaks Xtra and unique ‘mobile-only’ created content is available through mobile in HollyOaks Weekender.

Lost Video Diaries
Walt Disney Corporation are producing the Lost TV show spin-off: Lost Video Diaries. Expected to be released in the US late 2006 through Verizon.[lostpedia entry]

Prison Break: Proof of Innocence
Created by the Fox Broadcasting Company, Prison Break: Proof of Innocence, is a spin-off of the successful existing TV show: Prison Break. It is?only available in the US.

SMS Sugarman
Dv8 Films and Reflex Motion Pictures, in South Africa, have produced a multi-platform project, SMS Sugarman, that has unique content created for mobile (Vodacom: South Africa). All of the live-action was shot on mobile phones. It is the first feature-film, directed by Aryan Kaganof, that has been shot entirely on mobile phone. The mobile episodes are 20 x 3mins.

TXT MS C, a multi-platform project, was created by Switchfire Ltd for a UK audience in 2004 (UK). Content was shown during TV ads where viewers were given a fixed event with a cliff-hanger ending. Viewers were then encouraged to text in an ending they would like to see. They then see the ending they chose on their mobile phone, with another dilemma. People who voted were eligible for prizes. The show also played matchmaker, with viewers able to text name, gender, age and postcode to be connected to people close by for a text chat.]

Yours Always
Created by MediaCorp Studios, this 29 x3min and 10 x3min mobile drama extends an existing TV show, but offers unique narrative content. MediaCorp described it as a “concurrent spin-off” where “content [is] developed as an extension or elaboration of the main TV plot…In ‘Yours Always’, two different endings plus additional episodes are created that only 3G mobile users get to watch!”

Same Narrative, Different Media
These are dramas that provide the same story on each platform.

Dubplate Drama
Channel 4
 created a drama broadcast November 2005 called Dubplate Drama. It was available on Channel 4, digital channels MTV Base and E4, Sony’s PSP, and a ‘cut-down’ version on mobile phone (3). There were six (6) episodes 13 minutes in length. At the end of each episode viewers could vote on the outcome via SMS. [article]

Timothy Shey, of the Ruddy Morgan Organization,produced this drama, Flatland, a few years ago. It has been repurposed for delivery over mobile, broadband and other devices worldwide. It stars Dennis Hopper. Keren Flavell interviewed Tim Shey.

Forget the Rules
Jim Shomos, of Global Dilemma, is the series and format creator of Forget the Rules, a soap that was delivered over mobile phone (3), the web and Channel V in Australia last year. Each show ended with a choice for the viewer to then vote on. The choice was then filmed and broadcast the following week. The website offers a viral game and other ‘sticky’ content and user-generated sections.

Girl Friday
ishMedia (Melbourne) have created a multi-platform soapie for the youth market to be viewed through the web and mobile: Girl Friday. A pilot has been made by Kylie Robertson, who was behind the well received broadband drama Jupiter Green.

Random Place
The creators of Random Place, iconmobile, produced (2005) a soap that is delivered on a website on NineMSN, through MSN messenger and mobile phone (Vodaphone). It is free, monetised with sponsorship, and the soap is pictures, not live-action.

Sydney Girl
Screentime Productions (Sydney) have created a drama series like Sex-in-the-City for Sydney: Sydney Girl. It is, apparently, to be marketed in the US and UK. I haven’t been able to find any further information.

This is Emily Yeung
Produced by Marblemedia and Sinking Ship Entertainment, This is Emily Yeung is a pre-school series that will have the first episode available on mobile on August 14, be VoD online on August 21st at until August 28th and then be broadcast Monday, September 4 on Treehouse TV. Canada only, 2006. [article]

C.I.D; Love Concierge; Rainbow Connection; Woman of Times; The Undisclosed
Created by MediaCorp Studios?in Asia, these are “cut-downs” and “highlights” of existing TV-shows. [detail]

Mobile Only

PS I Luv U
Apparently the “first 3G mobile drama in Asia”, PS I Luv U is a “mobi-drama” was created by MediaCorp Studios, the Media Development Authority of Singapore, M1 and Motorola. There are 30 x3min eps that were shot entirely outdoors. It was launched on the mobile and the series continues on TV. None of the episodes are available on the web. My last research shows that it is only available on mobile: “made-for-mobile”.

Ninas Welt : german UMTS mobisodes by O2 (mobile network provider)

Anna und Du: austrian DVB-H mobisodes by ORF (austrian TV station)

Kill your Darling: german UMTS mobisodes by UFA (content generator; will get started in autumn on DMB and UMTS)

Song fuer C: german DVB-H mobisodes by Vodafone Germany and University of Applied Arts and Design, Zurich

Don’t Know
These ones I don’t have enough information about to say. Anyone?

Die Goldkinder
(‘The Goldkids’ means ‘Rich/ wealthy Kids’), starting April 3rd. in Swizerland. Enabled by Orange. — from Destroyer-Dave in a previous post.

Endemol have a mobile drama, FanTESStic, which is not released yet, but will be worldwide. [press release]

Jong Zuid
Media Republic in the Netherlands created, in 2004, the highly successful mobile drama Jong Zuid.

Love and Hate
Twentieth Television have apparently created a mobile drama called Love and Hate. [article] It will be released in the US through Verizon and will be 26 episodes long.

(‘Right in the middle’), started on March 16th in Germany. Enabled by VIVA-TV and O2 (telefon company). Similar to ‘Random Place — from Destroyer-Dave in a previous post.

The Simple Life: Interns
Fox Broadcasting Company created a mobisodes to extend the existing property of The Simple Life. They were available through Verizon Wireless’ V CAST 3G wireless broadband service on Wednesday, April 6, 2005. There are 26 x1 min episodes, created by the TV show’s creators: Bunim-Murray Productions. Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie star in the mobisode, as with the TV series. The first eight mobisodes will be available for purchase?at launch for $0.99 each on select V CAST phones. In the following weeks, two new mobisodes per week will be available for $0.99 each in conjunction with the broadcast of the television series. [article]

The Sunset Hotel
Twentieth Television have apparently created a mobile drama called The Sunset Hotel. [article] It will be released in the US through Verizon and will be 26 episodes long.

The?BBC have created 60sec prequels to the Doctor Who TV series for mobile phone: Tardisodes. They are available online and through their own ?off-portal? site and are obviously not self-sufficient are created to drive audiences to the scheduled broadcast and create buzz. I think they’re great. I really wanted to watch the whole show. But because I haven’t seen the show, I’m not entirley sure if it is unique content.

I find it interesting too, that Discovery Mobile TV [press release], Warner Bros. [article], Channel 4 and CBS have all got their own direct-to-consumer/”off-portal”/”off-deck” sites for mobile drama. But?with mode of access comes the fees for using the Net on your phone! Geez. Anyway, that is enough from me, tell me about mobile dramas that you know about.

NB. Thanks to Vassilen Iotzov of Mobile Aesthetic for the ‘mobile-only’ german additions.

9 Replies

  • This is a great list. Thanks Christy. The question still begs – have any of these been successful? When the user is the ultimate person in control, why should they follow the traditional media format of watching something on the schedule of another. I strongly believe that mobisodes will not work UNLESS there is a very strong brand already on television and that the mobile offers a unique or extended appreciation of the content, or it is such a radically different and creative thing that it harnesses the power of viral networks – like Jibjab on the web – whose success was predicated on timely or relevant content – ie the US Presidential election.
    I’m happy to be proven wrong, so I invite anyone included in this list to get in touch with me and let me know what a success their series has been. keren (at)

  • I mostly agree, Keren. The only point of difference, I think, is that I believe a mobisode can succeed without being an established brand off-platform.

    Something I’d add to your points is that for mobisodes to succeed, the production values need to increase dramatically; anything that comes off as a bad made-for-cable telemovie (only smaller!) isn’t just going to fail, it stands a great chance of poisoning the well for everyone else. There’s been a lot of bad press with mobile services, and even more bad content. The next 12-18 months is going to see a lot of mobile users having their first experience with mobisodes, and for all our sakes, let’s hope it’s a good one.

  • Here, here for the call for (more) good mobile content Keren and Leslie! Thanx for the welcome back Max. Tell me the good news (shoot me an email if you like).

    Keren, I find your comment about a mobisode not being able to launch a property interesting. I think there are definite formats that should not be used for the initial part of a storyworld. I don’t think a videogame is a good point-of-entry (POE) or ur-text for a new storyworld. I’ve spoken about this with game design students. I don’t think you can start people off with interactivity and then move them to passive media, I think you need to build up interaction over time and media. I think a storyworld needs to be clearly defined at the beginning and the way to do that is through linear or fixed media. The characters, world rule-set and so on need to be established well, they need to be grounded, and then can be explored and inverted and so on. I hadn’t taken the next to think about it in terms of the episodic delivery that you’re talking about. The scheduled viewing approach drip-feeds the new world, nanosode at a time. Thinking of it this way, I would have to agree with you. But at the same time, if the mobile drama went with the affordances of the medium — it is a phone — then maybe it can provide a level of intimacy and investment a non-personal device cannot muster? To me, I see each platform and format as a window to a world that exists beyond those. A mobile window is a tiny one, which can be a big tease leading up to a bigger window, or it can be an inadequate entry-point…

    And your point about possible poisoning Leslie is good too. As an example, I think poorly created iTV advertisements and some shows (not all!) have ruined that format for many audiences.

  • This is such a comprehensive body of research. I am currently working on writing and producing a drama for portable handheld devices, so it’s great to find a blog dedicated to emerging forms of storytelling.

  • Hello! Thanks Dean. I’ve checked out your site too and have just posted about it. I look forward to reading your research.

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