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mobisode

noun [countable]

a short episode of a popular television series, designed to be watched on a third-generation mobile phone

'The makers of hit show 24 are creating a spin-off series of one-minute dramas designed to be viewed on mobile phones. The mobisodes will be offered to Vodafone users in the UK from January, coinciding with the start of the thriller's fourth season on television …'

BBC News 11th November 2004

If you're totally addicted to TV programmes like Lost, Prison Break and 24, and find it really difficult to wait until the next week's instalment, you can now bridge that gap by watching a mobisode in the intervening days.

a mobisode features the characters and settings of the 'real' television series, but usually forms some kind of 'taster' or sneak preview

A mobisode is a short episode of a television programme made specifically for viewing on the screen of a mobile phone, and usually lasts between one and three minutes. The arrival of what is known as third-generation – often abbreviated to 3-G – technology, has made it possible to broadcast and view programmes on a cellular phone (3-G technology provides the ability to transfer both voice data, i.e. phone calls, and non-voice data, e.g. instant messaging, e-mail and video footage). Though mobisodes are designed for viewing on the tiny two-inch screen of a mobile phone, they are usually also made available on the Internet.

A mobisode features the characters and settings of the 'real' television series, but usually forms some kind of short 'taster' or sneak preview of subsequent episodes. Sometimes they stand independent of the actual television series, as a kind of 'spin-off', such as the recent Prison Break: Proof of Innocence, released in May 2006 and based on the popular US TV series Prison Break.

Background – mobisode

The term mobisode is a blend of the words mobile (phone) and episode which was coined – and in fact trademarked – by the US broadcasting company Fox in 2004. The first mobisodes to appear were 24: Conspiracy, a series of 24(!) one-minute episodes based on the cult television series 24 which, in conjunction with mobile phone company Vodafone, were made available in the US in November 2004 and in the United Kingdom just a couple of months later.

A related, but earlier term along the same lines is webisode, coined in the late 1990s to refer to an episode, preview or promotion of a film or TV programme which can be accessed through a website.

From the spring of 2006, fans of the UK TV series Doctor Who have been able to get a quick fix of their favourite programme by watching TARDISODEs, 60-second mini-episodes available on mobile phones or through the BBC's Doctor Who website. Each TARDISODE forms a prequel to the main 45-minute programme, featuring storylines and events which precede and set the scene for the action in the next episode. TARDISODE is a play on the words episode and TARDIS – the name of the Doctor's time travelling machine which has the external appearance of an old police telephone box.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 28th August 2006.

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