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“Smartphones are not little televisions” says Facebook content chief

Matthew Henick says it's time to stop viewing smartphones as an extension of the TV screen

Facebook’s head of content strategy and planning Matthew Henick told an audience at MIPTV that content producers need to stop regarding smartphones as a smaller TV screen and start seeing them as a way of connecting with the audience.

Henick said: “Smartphones are not little televisions. Mobile is social… phones are meant to connect people. Television is not a social… it’s a window.”

“There’s more creation and consumption happening than ever before in global society,” Henick said. “There are more words being written and read on platforms like Twitter, more photos being taken and viewed on Instagram and SMS, more video being shot, screened and viewed on Facebook and YouTube.”

“But none of it…is making its way into television or film. It is happening on the 2.4 billion smartphones in existence in the world, a number which is set to double in the next three to five years.”

Henick said we are entering a new era of audience-responsive “social entertainment” content, which will take traditional storytelling and gel it with engagement and conceived to be viewed mainly on smart devices.

He suggested content creators could begin using new production processes such as two scripts, one would be for shooting a traditional TV-version of the content and the other would include how the audience could engage with the content.

“It opens up the possibility of constant engagement, not confined to a programme schedule,” said Henick. “The consumption is active. It’s not a lean-back experience. Social content also prioritises the connection between viewers and not just their connection to the content.”

Henick also warned content creators they need to consider the time it takes to launch their programming, “Not everything has to be live but you shouldn’t be shooting things nine months prior, getting them in the can and then just putting them out there,” he said. “You need the ability to respond to the audience. This applies to all content types, scripted, non-scripted, sports, news.”