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102 NBS100 The Wireless Telephone - LookRadio Is The Image on The Cellphone 102NBS100LookRadio&TheCellphone
May 7, 2005 / "As Sprint's manager of multimedia services, he decides what programs to offer subscribers of Sprint TV, a $9.99-per-month service that allows wireless users to watch a range of programs, including the Weather Channel and a live feed of Fox News.
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"None of us work at a network," said Knoop after hearing the pitch, "but we know this is what they do."
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Several years ago, watching television on your phone seemed futuristic and out of reach. But a flurry of activity by mobile phone carriers, software developers and media companies has made the idea a reality.
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The technology has already generated its own lexicon -- "mobisode" and "snack TV." One production company coined a name based on the format many believe works best on a miniature screen: Two Minute Television.
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With the help of MobiTV, a company based in Berkeley that prepares television feeds for transmission over wireless networks, Sprint led the way in November 2003, offering U.S. customers the first service that provided live television on their phones, albeit at sluggish speeds.
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The following summer, the wireless provider upgraded to Sprint TV, a faster video-on-demand service.
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Cingular, now the nation's largest wireless company, began carrying MobiTV in late January. A week later, Verizon Wireless launched its V Cast service, a regularly updated on-demand menu of news, weather and entertainment clips powered by its wireless broadband network.
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Initially skeptical, broadcast and cable networks are now rushing to package content for the mobile phone -- and even developing just-for-mobile programming.
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A mobile division of NBC produces as many as 20 news broadcasts a day for phone viewing, tailored for a 2-inch screen with anchor close-ups and oversized graphics. ABC is expanding a 24-hour digital news channel available on mobile phones, among other platforms. 20th Century Fox Television has launched several series of "mobisodes" -- television programs whittled into one-minute episodes.
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Nowadays you can watch outtakes of "The Simple Life," get hourly updates from CNN or let Elmo and Big Bird entertain your child -- all while waiting at the doctor's office or standing in line at the grocery store.
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The well-known media brands aren't the only ones getting in on the action. A slew of independent production companies, such as goTV Networks, has also cropped up, churning out made-for-mobile television content.
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It's the latest evolution of what's been dubbed the third screen. Already a lucrative platform for text messages, ring tones and video games, the mobile phone is poised to become an essential part of television viewing.
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The potential is on display in South Korea and Japan, where mobile phone television has taken hold. When SK Telecom began streaming live video to phones in 2001, 1 million South Korean customers signed up in the first nine months. Carriers now offer next-generation phones equipped with television transmitters, and this month a Korean company began satellite mobile TV service.
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In the United States, mobile phone television is still in its infancy. Neither the wireless carriers nor the media companies, which are bound by nondisclosure agreements, would say how many Americans watched TV on their phones. They were also tight-lipped about the amount of revenue it was generating. Industry experts estimate that the number of mobile users who subscribe to a television service hovers in the hundreds of thousands.
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However, many analysts expect that number to grow exponentially in the next several years as the technology improves and video-enabled phones -- priced at about $200 to $300 -- become more affordable.
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Before they can expand the audience, mobile phone companies and media providers must unravel a knot of issues, including the capacity restrictions of the wireless networks, complicated copyright negotiations and, most important, the question of what customers want.
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But those hurdles haven't stopped the rush among those who want to be on the edge of the newest technology.
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"We don't look at it from the standpoint of its limitations today," said David Post, founder of the Two Minute Television Network, a company based in New York that has four made-for-mobile series in production, even though it has not signed a distribution deal with a wireless carrier.


ByLines: Editors Note

More Articles • Converging News 202005 / TeleCom Buy Outs and Asset Seizure Boom

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Josie Cory
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102 NBS100 The Wireless Telephone and LookRadio Is The Image on The Cellphone • / Television International Magazine's Person Of The Week POW 202005 - / NEWS Convergence - 20th Week of 182005 / Feature Story • 102LookRadioIsTheCellphone.htm Smart90, s90tv, lookradio, tvimagazine, dv90, vratv, xingtv, Ddiaries, nbs100, Look Radio, Josie Cory, Television With No Borders

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