@ AOP: ITV Plans Friends & Football For Mobile Drive

Troubled ITV (LSE: ITV) will launch a new mobile site for its Friends Reunited network in the next few months – and plans to use football to popularise the medium. ITV mobile head Melissa Goodwin told a mobile content session at the Association of Online Publishers conference in London on Wednesday the broadcaster must have a presence “in every single bit of mobile”. She said there would be a new mobile site for the ITV-owned Friends Reunited social networking in the next few months, including two iPhone apps.

Goodwin said football was a big driver for mobile traffic and would continue to grow. ITV, like many UK newspaper publishers, has signed up to show broadband Premier League highlights through rights held by Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) and Perform Group – something that’s also ripe for taking to mobile. Goodwin said fans should be able to use ITV Mobile to watch goals from England’s World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan on November 11 – “within two minutes of it happening”.

Also on the panel was Robert Marsh, interactive head for TV producer Fremantle, which is making mobile adjuncts for its X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent shows on ITV. The only problem: the company doesn’t know how to make any money from mobile.

Marsh: “We have tried, but with no success so far in making our content and expanding it into mobile. It just does not seem to work at the moment. At the moment, we are trying it, but we just don’t cover our costs really.” Fremantle has tried subscription, sponsorship, PPC and direct advertising funding in America and the UK – but without “finding the sustainable commercial model”. Offering users things like video clips and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage did not help either, Marsh said.