Tech Briefs

Jan 24, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Cellphone Video Service in Works

Discovery Networks is developing plans for a mobile Discovery service that will play on cellphones. The content will be geared toward the smaller screen and the shorter attention span for video on cellphones.

“What research has shown is consumers are looking to get information in a quick fashion, quick updates and short-form products rather than long-form linear [programs],” said Bill Goodwyn, Discovery’s president of affiliate sales and marketing. The look, feel and meat of the service is still being crafted, but Mr. Goodwyn would like it to work across a variety of carriers. The service will likely draw from a variety of Discovery’s channels.

Discovery’s exploration of the cellphone opportunity follows a trend that has been developing over the past year and that took off at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, when several content providers announced deals to deliver video over cellphones. SmartVideo Technologies inked deals with NBC Universal, ABC News Now and The Weather Channel to deliver content to a range of mobile devices, from cellphones to PDAs to pocket PCs using Microsoft’s Windows Media Mobile technology. The SmartVideo technology allows live TV content to be sent across any carrier or cellular provider as long as the consumer has a phone with a Microsoft operating system for Web access. A subscription starts at $12.95.

Also at the show, Verizon Wireless said starting Feb. 1 it will roll out a video-on-demand service for cellphones with 300 cellphone-specific programs from Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, ESPN, Fox and others. Fox will provide customized short episodes of “24.” MTV Networks will provide versions of shows including VH1’s “Best Week Ever,” Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer.” The service costs $15 per month.

Consumers Want HD Super Bowl

Comcast said nearly 28 percent of consumers rate being able to watch the Super Bowl in high definition as a critical point in their decision about where to view the game this year. That’s according to a consumer survey Comcast conducted late last month as part of an HD consumer awareness effort.

Comcast said it offers HD service in 62 markets this year. The operator carries the Fox affiliate, this year’s Super Bowl broadcaster, in HD in 38 of them. That compares to a total of 49 markets with HD last year. Of those, 29 offered the CBS station, the broadcaster of last year’s game, in hi-def. The Super Bowl in hi-def on Fox will be available to more than 80 percent of Comcast’s customers.

A notable exception is No. 5 market San Francisco. The Cox-owned Fox affiliate KTVU-TV does not have a retransmission agreement with Comcast, thought the operator said it continues to work on such an agreement. Also, Pittsburgh’s Sinclair-owned WPGH-TV, a Fox affiliate, is not carried in HD on Comcast.