Verizon Wireless will offer commercial free, full-length episodes of popular cable shows such as Sci Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters, USA Network’s The Starter Wife and MTV’s The Hills as part of wide-ranging carriage deal with several cable and broadcast networks.
Verizon Wireless’s deals with NBC Universal, CBS, MTV Networks, BET Networks, Discovery Communications, G4 and FoxSports.com will provide subscribers to the V Cast service (which runs $15 per month or $3 for 24-hour use) with an abundance of full-length episodes from top cable and broadcast services — although Verizon said it will offer such content in segmented bite-size clips.
Prior to the deal, most of V Cast’s video content was made up of short clips from various networks and other content providers.
While the deals could give a boost to the multibillion-dollar mobile-TV business by offering full episodes of compelling network content, Bruce Leichtman, president of new-media research company Leichtman Research Group, said the category is too small to potentially draw viewers away from television. In addition, he said, short-form content is what most mobile video users want to see.
“Eighty-seven percent of those people who watch video content on their cell phones say they spend less than 10 minutes, so it’s about bite-size morsels,” Leichtman said. “But for the networks and Verizon, there’s very little downside to offering long-form programming on mobile [phones].”
From NBCU, the V Cast service will feature shows, including USA’s Starter Wife and Sci Fi’s Ghost Hunters, as well as NBC’s 30 Rock, The Office, Kath and Kim and this fall’s remake of Knight Rider.
MTVN programming includes MTV’s The Hills, Cribs, Real World/Road Rules Challenge and Paris Hilton’s My New BFF; Nickelodeon’s H2O; VH1’s Brooke Knows Best; CMT’s Gone Country and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team; and MTV Tr3s’s Kalifornia. Featured BET fare includes episodes of Hell Date and Comic View: One Mic Stand.
Other networks offering full-length episodes include ESPN’s ScoreCenter, a half-hour sports-news program with news, scores and information; and CBS shows CSI and Numb3rs.
Verizon also reached distribution deals with G4 for video clips from Attack of the Show and X-Play, as well as with Discovery Communications, which includes video clips from such shows as TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus 8, Animal Planet’s Untamed & Uncut, Planet Green’s Wa$ted and Discovery Kids’ Bindi the Jungle Girl. Discovery already offered video from Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs and MythBusters on the channel.
Scripps Networks will also offer food and home-based clips of selected shows from Food Network, HGTV and DIY to V Cast customers, according to Scripps senior vice president, online partnerships and distribution Lisa Choi Owens.
While the company will continue to offer short-form content, it hasn’t ruled out the possibility of offering longer-form programming on mobile platforms.