CBS, NBC Plan to Offer Mobile Inventory During the Upfront

Mar 28, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The mobile screen this year will join the TV screen and the PC screen at the table during the TV upfront.

This 360-degree integration is possible for the first time this year, said Cyriac Roeding, VP-wireless, CBS Digital Media.


CBS and others can offer mobile ad inventory to marketers in this year’s upfront is thanks to the launch of MediaFlo, a multicast mobile network. NBC Universal, Fox, ESPN and Viacom have all agreed to distribute their content over their own MediaFlo mobile channels.

Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom, said his company has already lined up Intel and Pepsi to sponsor its mobile offerings. He was bullish about the prospects of mobile marketing and said his company would be aggressive in selling such offerings. “In short, we believe advertising can work on wireless,” he said.

NBC unveiled this week that its NCBU Digital2Go initiative — which includes linear video channels NBC News2Go and NBC2Go — will be available on MediaFlo, initially through Verizon Wireless VCast phones and later from other carriers. And to step fully onto the mobile platform, NBC Universal launched four sites for the mobile web: NBC, USA, Bravo and NBC Sports.


“We’ve staked a huge claim,” said Salil Dalvi, general manager-wireless platforms, NBC Universal. “We’re aggressively offering our content in the marketplace,” he said.

NBC also plans to offer through a competing unicast service, MobiTV, full-length prime-time and cable entertainment shows on demand, as well as seven short-form video channels. MobiTV, an early entrant into the mobile video space, has some live channels, like CNN, but the bulk of its offerings is video-on-demand content, which works well with its unicast system. Unicast networks send out one signal from a cellphone tower to one phone, whereas multicast networks, such as MediaFlo, operate more like traditional TV programming, sending out one signal to many devices. For the major TV players, that means they can operate mobile networks in a similar fashion to a cable offering.

ESPN Mobile TV’s MediaFlo offering will include live college baseball and football in addition to made-for-mobile programs ESPN ReSet and ScoreCenter.

Prime-time shows

Fox Mobile will include prime-time shows such as “24” and “Prison Break” as well as reality shows on MediaFlo. Like CBS, which is planning to bring “I Love Lucy” and other classics to the mobile screen, Fox plans to revive some of the shows from its archives for mobile phones, such as “Lost in Space.” CBS will also offer mobile news and weather alerts.

One network won’t be on MediaFlo, however. Bruce Gersh, senior VP-business development, ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television, said during a panel discussion that ABC and MediaFlo just couldn’t come to business terms.

But he is not averse to ABC having its own mobile offering. “We’re learning already that it’s additive; it’s not cannibalistic,” said Bruce Gersh, senior VP- business development, ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television.

-Alice Z. Cuneo