Disney Goes With FLO


The Mouse House is shipping more TV content to mobile screens.

Last week The Walt Disney Co. expanded its pact with Qualcomm's FLO TV unit to offer subscribers ABC Mobile — a specially programmed channel which will include a pick of the broadcaster's primetime shows and content from ABC Family and SoapNet — and a simulcast of Disney Channel.

Content from Disney's ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNews is already carried on the ESPN Mobile TV channel on FLO. With ABC in the mix, the Qualcomm service now offers dedicated channels from the four biggest broadcasters.

“In addition to having access to high-quality, popular sports programming from ESPN, users of the FLO TV service will now be able to see their favorite shows from ABC and Disney Channel,” Disney and ESPN Media Networks senior vice president of digital video distribution Matt Murphy said.

Today, however, TV viewing on mobile devices in the U.S. is comparatively miniscule: Americans in the third quarter of 2009 watched an average of just three minutes of video on a mobile device per week, compared with 31 hours and 19 minutes on a TV, according to Nielsen.

The FLO TV service — offered in about 100 markets nationwide over dedicated chunks of wireless spectrum — is available from AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The Qualcomm unit also has begun selling its own $250 dedicated portable TV and hopes to offer the service in automobiles, as well, through a deal with Audiovox.

Qualcomm does not disclose how many mobile TV subscribers FLO serves. According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, its assets related to the FLO TV business totaled $1.2 billion as of June 28, 2009.

The FLO TV lineup of channels now includes ABC Mobile, Adult Swim, CBS Mobile, CNBC, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, ESPN Mobile TV, Fox Mobile, Fox News Channel, NBC2Go, Nickelodeon, MSNBC and MTV. In addition, AT&T offers CNN Mobile TV and Sony's Crackle exclusively through FLO, while Verizon exclusively offers MTV Tr3s.

Disney Channel will run a simulcast on the FLO TV service, with such shows as Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place and The Suite Life on Deck, as well as original telefilms.

The ABC Mobile channel will include full-length episodes of shows such as Grey's Anatomy, FlashForward and Lost (when it returns in February 2010), as well as select content from ABC Family and SoapNet and short-form content from ABC Entertainment and ABC News.

ESPN Mobile TV currently provides live coverage of more than 800 live events, including college basketball and some Major League Baseball games. Through the expanded agreement with Disney, FLO TV subscribers will have access to previously unavailable ESPN games via the ABC Mobile channel.