Mobile Station Stories: David Dickinson, WPT

by Rachel Lim, PBS Station Products & Innovation

David Dickinson (and fish), WPT
As part of the launch of the Mobile White Label Series for Stations (available in SRC, login required), we are profiling mobile efforts at stations throughout the system on a variety of topics, ranging from mobile giving to the differences between mobile Web and mobile apps. Over the next six weeks, these stations, who are part of the Station Mobile Working Group, share their experiences, plans, successes and lessons learned about mobile.

David Dickinson is the Online Manager of Wisconsin Public Television, where his team has developed a mobile website that offers a TV programs schedule and a link to their non-mobile website, with plans to add additional website pieces to the mobile browser in the future: (visit through mobile browser).

What motivated you to pursue mobile, and how did you develop your initial mobile strategy?
What motivated us was looking at our statistics: we saw that our mobile traffic increased fivefold last year. So we identified mobile as a growing segment. And we knew that the most viewed page on our site was the TV schedule. When we decided to redesign our schedule, we wanted to make sure it was mobile friendly, since we knew the demand would be there.

What were your initial goals for mobile, and how have they changed over time?
Our initial goal was to put up a schedule – we were using a PBS schedule module before – and we decided to build our own because the data we can provide is much more up-to-date. The other thing we wanted to accomplish with the TV schedule was to make it more of a marketing vehicle rather than an information fulfillment tool. The mobile version has much less information than the desktop version – we didn’t want to make the mobile version cluttered so we made it a lot simpler. In the mobile version of the schedule, you can choose one of our three channel schedules to see the grid of what programs are going to be on, and you can select a show to see more information about an episode.

What is the strategy behind WPT focusing specifically on TV schedules for mobile web? What are the benefits (or consequences) of this approach?
It was a starting point – it was the first thing we’ve done. Rather than rolling everything out at once, we’re rolling things out in pieces. The strategy was simply that this was the most visited section of the website – this was the lowest hanging fruit in terms of providing more bang for the buck. We’re definitely interested in continuing to roll out more areas of content, but it’s less clear where the focus should be or where we’ll get the most return for investment.

What kind of results have you seen so far, and how does it affect your future plans for mobile?
Well, we’ve seen that mobile is approximately 5% of our total traffic site, and the numbers are growing. And we’ve seen that the most common mobile platform was the iPad. One of my next goals is trying to make a mobile friendly giving page. We want something that is simple but efficient. The difficult part is being able to focus on the difference in platforms. All of our previous efforts have been focused on a desktop experience instead of on the mobile experience, and that is daunting to say the least.

Something else that we’ve worked on developing is a QR code for our schedule – and we’re seeing some decent results.

Why did you decide to focus on a mobile web site instead of a mobile application?
The mobile site is a lower hanging fruit – an app was just too much for us at this time. In an ideal world, we could do both, but with limited resources we’re definitely going to focus on a mobile site. The amount of time involved in coding and marketing is simply not worth the app. Especially with the way HTML 5 is going, in the future, the experience of a website is going to mirror that of an app. We have the schedule up and running, and we’d love to move into video for mobile. We’re waiting for PBS to build COVE iOS friendliness in the future.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first approached mobile? I would say, for us, it was helpful and beneficial to look at our statistics. Stations should be sure to look at their statistics to see who is coming into their site and what platforms they are using.

Check back next week where our last stop will be the Northwest, and a chat with Lynne Pollard of Oregon Public Broadcasting.


  1. That is a very large fish and a very cool app.

  2. Just for reference, I've met David and he is very tall. So that is a huge fish!

    The mobile schedule is pretty sweet too!