I mean the really, really small screen: your cell phone. On Friday, AT&T announced that it will offer subscribers ten channels of television programming. The images may be small, but the networks providing the content are some of the giants: CBS, Comedy Central, ESPN, FOX, MTV, NBC, NBC News, and Nickelodeon.
AT&T will be using the MediFLO system, which is the same used by Verizon for its mobile television. Verizon customers can also access live content from the same eight channels listed here for AT&T. The differentiation comes from the fact that AT&T and Verizon offer two more channels, each network with their own pair of exclusive channels.
This is not just a straight rebroadcast of the content being shown at the same time by local broadcast stations. Instead, the most popular content is rearranged to play serveral times a day. So you can catch up on last night’s late show during this morning’s commute.
Is mobile TV going to take off? I keep coming back to the Nokia experiments in England a couple of years ago, and reminding myself what a big hit it was. And the most popular place to watch TV on their cell phones was at home, of all places! I believe that watching on a cell phone is the equivalent to listening to an iPod. You don’t have to share the remote control with anyone, and you don’t have to negotiate about what channel to watch. You get control, no matter where you are. My biggest question is whether or not 10 channels can deliver enough content to keep subscribers renewing the monthly fee after the novelty wears off. Stay tuned….