CBS Stations Make First Call

Aug 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

CBS television stations will be the first in 16 U.S. markets to roll out news video feeds to customers who want to keep up with events on their wireless devices.

The stations, owned and operated by the network, will deliver the news to Sprint and Verizon customers and plan to enlist additional cellphone carriers later this year. CBS is joining with Weathernews and CBC New Media Group’s News Over Wireless to provide the service.

Offering news on cellphones marks an expansion of stations’ efforts to reach viewers who aren’t in front of their television sets at home and builds on the Web presence CBS stations have established. Along with other station groups, CBS broadcasters are exploring nontraditional means of distributing their content as advertisers shift spending toward new forms of media.

“Our station’s commitment to being ‘Always On’ has now expanded to reach the local wireless audiences in each of our markets,” Jonathan Leess, president of CBS Television Stations’ Digital Media Group, said in a statement. Part of the CBS stations’ strategy to beat other station groups to the video punch is to secure a prominent position on the function menus on carriers’ phones, rather than getting lost in a crowd as other station groups expand their offerings to include news video. Being first gives the CBS stations an advantage, said Aaron Radin, VP of business development for the CBS Television Stations Digital Media Group.

Consumers can buy the products directly from their cellphones at each local station’s Web site or via text message for $2.99 to $4.99, depending on their carrier and type of phone. The subscriptions include monthly, unlimited access to the application and content.

The CBS stations began select offerings of the wireless service in early spring.