Just An Online Minute... Can CBS Make Mobile Pay Off?
The deal marks yet another CBS experiment to distribute shows via non-traditional methods. CBS was one of the first to sell programs on Google Video. Additionally, CBS has flirted with YouTube more than the other major networks, placing clips from shows like "CSI" on the Google-owned site and also creating a March Madness channel on it.
CBS also last year started streaming prime-time shows on its own broadband channel, innertube.
And CBS has made several other deals with mobile carriers, including Verizon's VCast and Cingular -- though programs in those deals aren't ad-supported.
For the Sprint deal, CBS will include pre-roll ads as well as video ads during the natural breaks of "Evening News." Clips from other shows, including "CSI," and "Survivor," also will be available on Sprint as part of the deal.
While it's understandable that CBS wants to get its programs to viewers in a variety of different formats, the ad-supported mobile play doesn't seem likely to gain much traction. Users already have to pay for mobile TV service, and probably won't appreciate ads on top of subscriber fees. Additionally, cell phones have a limited battery life and users also might not be happy about seeing their batteries run down by pre-roll ads. Given the inherent limitations, it's unlikely that all but the most diehard fans will agree to watch video ads on their mobiles in order to view TV programs on those devices.