Simulcasting TV to Cellphones

Media Morph: MediaFlo

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: MediaFlo.
Multimedia live-concert producer Control Room (formerly Network Live) has signed on to show video on cellphones via MediaFlo.
Multimedia live-concert producer Control Room (formerly Network Live) has signed on to show video on cellphones via MediaFlo.

What it is: A system to simulcast TV to cellphones, MediaFlo was launched by Qualcomm, which believes the next generation of broadcast networks will be accessed on mobile phones, not TVs. MediaFlo and its competitors, Modeo and Hiwire, provide what is expected to be a vast improvement in mobile-video quality.

Who's using it: Several wireless carriers are conducting tests, but Verizon Wireless is expected to roll out MediaFlo as soon as the first quarter of next year. ABI Research, which specializes in the wireless space, estimates MediaFlo will have 4 million subscribers by the end of 2007; some 514 million worldwide will subscribe to mobile-TV services by 2011.

Why it matters: MediaFlo and other simulcast media may turn mobile video into a mass-market, highly targeted media. Think of MediaFlo and the others as a new kind of cable company.

Cost: Verizon's monthly fees are expected to be $10 to $15.

Content: So far only multimedia live-concert producer Control Room (formerly Network Live) has signed on. Other content negotiations are ongoing, a spokesman said. ABI expects MediaFlo to be able to offer some two dozen channels.

Hang-ups: A survey by Frank N. Magid Associates for the Cable Advertising Bureau found 63% of consumers would rather watch video on TV than on a mobile device. Ideal ad length? Forty-two seconds on TV, nine seconds on a mobile device.

Jill Rosengard Hill, VP-managing director at Frank N. Magid, said the service might appeal to a some, but it's questionable whether most consumers will want to "spend money on the service and burn their cellphone batteries."
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