RAM: Adding Glitz to Mobile TV

Media odds maker Forrester Research recently predicted that TV on cell phones won't be a market force for another five years, but mobile TV aggregator SmartVideo is already gambling on its timing. The Atlanta-based aggregator is adding "Vegas Sports" and "Vegas Scoreline" to an existing lineup of over 25 live and on-demand video channels that have been streaming to smart phones and wireless Windows PDAs since early this year. The service offers a $12.95 a month package that also includes ABC News, E!, and Fox Sports. "Target marketing is something we are very passionate about," says Richard Bennett Jr., president and CEO of SmartVideo. He admits that mobile TV is embryonic, but foresees a hybrid model of fee-based premium channels and niche-channel bundles that include in-stream ad support.

While Bennett expects the product to be accessible directly from the phone deck on most major carriers by the end of this year, he also feels consumers will access mobile TV outside of carriers' garden walls. Even without direct carrier support or promotions, SmartVideo is already broadcasting to a growing base via SmartPhone Web browsers and Wi-Fi hot spots.

In less than six months of relatively un-hyped broadcasting, Bennett notes the company is running at about 25,000 subscribers. That may not be a market force, but it's well on its way.

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