Verizon to Carry Live TV Via V-Cast Service on Cellphones

Joins MobiTV in Bringing Network Content to Third Screen

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LAS VEGAS ( -- At the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show, two of the nation's largest telecom companies unveiled initiatives that bet consumers will want to access content -- including live TV -- through their cellphones.

V-Cast Mobile TV will have channels with content from CBS, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, Fox, NBC News and NBC Entertainment.

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"This is a real transformation of the American media market," said John Stratton, exec VP-chief marketing officer for Verizon Communications, which is planning to offer live TV on mobile phones in the first quarter of this year. While most current mobile video plans essentially offer consumers a collection of clips to chose from, V-Cast Mobile TV will offer up to 20 channels of live TV and 10 channels of live audio programming.

Channels from Fox, CBS, NBC
At launch, V-Cast Mobile TV will have channels with content from CBS, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, Fox, NBC News and NBC Entertainment. In addition, the service will allow subscribers to add premium services, the equivalent of an HBO, a Verizon representative said.

CBS will build out a new studio operation to handle V-Cast Mobile TV service content, said Cyriac Roeding, VP, CBS Wireless. Full episodes of programs such as "CSI" and "Late Night With David Letterman" will air on CBS's V-Cast channel. "This is a major breakthrough for the industry," Mr. Roeding said.

There will be advertising on the service, but Verizon said it plans to proceed carefully so as not to draw consumer ire or privacy concerns.

Verizon's service is not mobile's first TV offering. MobiTV, which operates on Sprint and Cingular, also offers live programming from MSNBC, ABC News Now, CNN, ESPN 3GTV, NBC Mobile, and the Weather Channel, among others. At CES, MobiTV said marketers now will have the option of allowing mobile-phone customers to click on ads in its programming to bridge them to other websites or to contact a marketer directly.

Verizon also announced plans for improved content search for its high-speed fiber-optic network, FiOS, as well as for a system that allows subscribers to manage broadcast TV, the internet and private music and photo collections in one place.

"It is next generation, and cable and satellite cannot match it," said Verizon's president-chief operating officer, Denny Strigl, who referred to Verizon as the "premier global telecommunications and content-delivery company."

AT&T's first three-screen deal
AT&T, meanwhile, which completed its acquisition of Cingular Wireless, has inked its first three-screen content deal. AT&T, which has started to build out an ad sales force, has obtained rights to country singer Tim McGraw's annual "Swampstock" concert and sold a sponsorship to Chase Card Services for video, music and images from the shows. In addition to ads in AT&T's Blue Room website,, Chase advertising will run in VOD segments. On Cingular, Chase ads will appear around wallpaper and voice tones.

Karl Spangenberg, VP-integrated advertising and commerce, AT&T Entertainment Services, declined to discuss ad costs or specifics of the deal.

Billion-dollar ad stream
But AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre has said he expects ad revenue to become a stream of several billion dollars over time, and Mr. Spangenberg is giving thought to more than just screens for AT&T. He said AT&T might also consider selling outdoor ads. "We have a lot of buildings and manhole covers" or other "out-of-the-box advertising opportunities," he added.

Initiatives and services to capture the attention of cellphone users weren't limited to telecoms. As part of a keynote CES presentation, Yahoo showed off a beta version of Yahoo Go for "mobile 2.0" that features what it calls a "reinvention" of mobile search. The "OneSearch" service recognizes the intent of a search term and presents relevant content -- not just a list of web links -- on the results page, Yahoo executives said. Other features include local information such as interactive maps, driving directions and real-time traffic information.
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