The company said this morning it's launching new mobile Web sites for MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central. Additionally, Sprint will start offering streams of Viacom shows including MTV's "The Hills," Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants," and Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." The deal also encompasses a new GameTrailers mobile video channel.
Viacom has lined up Intel and Pepsi as mobile sponsors. But, while the move is a first for Viacom, it's not the first time any TV network has arranged for ad-supported mobile shows. Earlier this week, former Viacom corporate sibling CBS said it would start offering ad-supported versions of streams of programs including "Jericho" and "Evening News With Katie Couric."
Viacom chief Philippe Dauman reportedly said today at the CTIA wireless conference that the company currently sends 1 million streams to cell phones monthly. "We believe advertising can work on the wireless platform. Indeed we view it as a critical medium," Dauman reportedly said.
Dauman isn't the only executive to sound a bullish note on mobile ads. But the optimism doesn't appear to be supported by any evidence that consumers are willing to accept such ads. It's understandable that Viacom doesn't want to get left behind by technology, but curious that the company is wheeling and dealing in the nascent mobile video market at the same time that it's warring with YouTube -- a company that already delivers video in a format that everyone knows consumers want.