By Leah Hochbaum
For the last few years, MIP-TV has offered up a Mobile Village in Cannes, a place where TV companies can watch demonstrations and get explanations on the latest in mobile content — and this year is no different. New strides are being made in the mobile realm each day, and the Village is one of the few places industry insiders can gather to discuss the advances. VideoAge checked in with a few companies to find out how and why mobile’s become such an integral part of the industry, and what they’re doing to see that viewers’ mobile needs are met.
Florida-based Venevision International, a member of the Cisneros Group of Companies, and one of the largest exclusive Spanish-language film distributors and independent TV producers in the U.S., has formed Venemobile, a new business unit focused on providing Spanish-language wireless content to cell phones in the U.S. Hispanic market.
“As a major diversified entertainment company, Venevision International could hardly afford not to participate in this market, which is a natural extension of our basic content production and distribution business,” said Luis Villanueva, president of Venevision International.
The new division will offer film clips, photos, ring tones and other products for the wireless telephone market, and will be headed by Daniel Rodriguez, a Cisneros veteran who’s been with Venevision for two years.
Another company wetting its feet in the wireless world is NBC Universal, which recently partnered with MobiTV, an Emeryville, California-based company specializing in mobile and broadband television and music services, to make some of NBC Uni’s most popular series available over U.S. wireless networks for the first time. Shows including Heroes, Friday Night Lights, The Office, Monk, sci-fi phenom Battlestar Galactica, and telenovela Pasion de Gavilanes, which have been culled from NBC, Bravo, Sci Fi Channel, USA Network, Telemundo and mun2, will be available to subscribers on five new ad-supported channels, which will debut on MobiTV later this year. Consumers will be able to access full episodes of shows starting at $1.99 for a 24-hour viewing period.
“This is an extraordinary partnership with MobiTV and we’re excited to be the first major network to offer our viewers wireless access to their favorite primetime shows on demand,” said Jean-Briac Perrette, vice president, NBC Universal Digital Distribution. “This groundbreaking deal with MobiTV will create another platform for NBCU’s partner advertisers to reach their audience.”
Jeff Bartee, vice president of Content and Programming for MobiTV, concurred, adding, “This deal represents a significant milestone in the history of television and a key advancement in the mobile television category.”
Cologne and Barcelona-based ohm:tv also recognizes the growing importance of mobile. Its Barcelona mobile division has extended its portfolio of mobile TV channels, launching GIRLZ (the first mobile channel dedicated to teen girls) and THE LINE (a new music channel offering live concerts and backstage footage), both of which are produced by mango tv mobile. These two new additions bring ohm:tv’s mobile channel roster up to six, and includes Crime Scene TV, and SHORTZ, a short movie channel.
“The success of our established channels has encouraged us to expand our portfolio,” said Hans Spielthenner, managing director of ohm:tv. “The fact that all our channels are produced especially for mobile phones makes them very attractive to our clients since all content rights are specifically cleared for mobile phones — a crucial advantage compared to other products on the market.”
Mobile TV has quickly taken hold of the television industry, so companies that haven’t yet delved in would be wise to visit the MIP Mobile Village. It might very well change the way they do business.