Las Vegas -- Touting it as "true broadcast-quality" TV on a mobile phone, Verizon Wireless Sunday announced that V CAST Mobile TV -- featuring seven live channels -- will be available in an unspecified number of U.S. markets in the first quarter.
The service, unveiled at a press conference here prior to the Consumer Electronics Show this week, will include seven live channels: CBS; Fox; NBC Universal's NBC News and NBC Entertainment; and MTV Networks' MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
“V CAST Mobile TV isn’t just a placeholder for broadcast programming on the mobile phone -- it is the best of television programmed specifically for the mobile customer with great programs, the way they were meant to be seen, on your mobile phone,” Verizon chief marketing officer John Stratton said in a prepared statement.
Until now, Verizon Wireless’ V CAST video service has provided only on-demand clips.
Verizon Wireless spent more than one year developing V CAST Mobile TV with Qualcomm's MediaFLO USA subsidiary, which will provide the infrastructure to broadcast the TV programming over its own dedicated network.
Verizon Wireless did not disclose expected pricing for V CAST Mobile TV, nor did it say where the service will be available initially. MediaFLO USA has said that its network, which uses the 700-megahertz spectrum, will be available in 20-30 markets in the first quarter of 2007.
V CAST Mobile TV will require subscribers to use one of two new phones: Samsung's SCH-u620 or LG Electronics' VX9400.
Verizon Wireless -- a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone -- expects to add more channels after launch. MediaFLO has advertised its service as capable of supporting up to 20 channels.
A spokeswoman for Turner Broadcasting System, with networks including CNN, said last week that while it was not participating in the CES launch, "We are currently in discussions with Verizon regarding MediaFLO and making content from several of the Turner networks available on the platform."
Programming will be presented in “time block”/scheduled availability, in both the Eastern and Pacific time zones. The service's program guide includes date, time and program information, and it will let customers view programming up to 48 hours ahead of the scheduled broadcast. A Web site for the service will feature a searchable program-listing grid, plus previews and other information. V CAST Mobile TV provides parental-control features to allow parents to set ratings for TV and movies.
MediaFLO USA and Verizon Wireless will be playing catch-up to the other major provider of live mobile television, MobiTV, which provides 35 channels to carrier partners including Sprint Nextel and Cingular Wireless. Channels available on MobiTV include MSNBC, ABC News Now, CNN, Fox News Channel, ESPN 3GTV, NBC Mobile, Discovery Channel and The Weather Channel.
But Verizon Wireless is betting that its video quality will be better. Whereas MobiTV’s service is typically available at 15 frames per second over existing carrier networks depending on signal quality, the MediaFLO-provided video network is supposed to deliver 24-30 frames per second.
Programming on each channel of the initial V CAST Mobile TV service, provided through distribution deals with MediaFLO USA, is expected to include:
• MTVN: Content will include MTV reality series The Real World, Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants and Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
• NBC: The news channel will feature live, full-length programs including Today, Nightly News with Brian Williams and Meet the Press, as well as select programming from both MSNBC and CNBC. The entertainment channel will offer The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien, as well as some of NBC U's primetime, daytime and cable shows.
• CBS: Primetime programming will include CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, NCIS, Numb3rs, Jericho, Survivor and Big Brother; news will include CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, The Early Show, CBS News Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes and 48 Hours Mystery; late-night shows Late Show with David Letterman and Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson; CBS Sports and CSTV content such as college-football games; and programming from CBS' library, including Star Trek, The Brady Bunch, I Love Lucy, Twin Peaks, MacGyver, Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel.
• Fox: Primetime programs such as 24, Prison Break, Fox Report with Shepard Smith and Your World with Neil Cavuto. Fox Sports on MSN, a unit of Fox Interactive Media, will also deliver several hours per day of original sports video programming that will be accessible to viewers via both MediaFLO USA and FOXSports.com.