Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

RTL firm launches mobile TV for men

By Kate Bulkley

The Guardian

Monday October 16, 2006

The RTL programming subsidiary Fremantle Media is launching a mobile phone channel called Atomic Wedgie in partnership with the US mobile operator Sprint Nextel.

The $4.95-a-month (2.66) subscription service, launched in conjunction with the technology provider Mobliss, includes streamed versions of programmes from Fremantle's library.

There will also be made-for-mobile content, including comedy clips, a Bush Bites section with clips of President George Bush and a daily show called Fortune Cookie, in which an attractive Asian girl gives subscribers tips for the day.

The target market for the service is men aged 18 to 34 years old. A 60-second Baywatch Babes clip will feature slow motion close-ups of "babes" in the shower, for example. None of the clips will be longer than two and a half minutes because most research suggests mobile video viewing mainly involves "snacking" for short periods of time.

"This is about getting into the direct-to-consumer business," says Olivier Gers, the general manager of FremantleMedia Licensing Worldwide.

"This will allow us to control the content pipe and to understand what people like and don't like and get that information immediately."

Paul Goode, a senior analyst at the mobile phone data company m:metrics, said: "It's great that an independent producer from Europe is establishing a channel in the US market."

Sprint Nextel, the third-largest US mobile operator, was created in a $35bn (19bn) merger last year and has about 1.5 million customers capable of receiving streaming video content.

But according to Mr Goode, a Sprint PCS user is nearly 140% more likely to consume mobile video than are subscribers to other US networks.

"It may be smaller than Verizon and may have suffered from integration problems since the merger, but Sprint has been great at the mobile video business," he said.

Fremantle Media's deal with Sprint Nextel is non-exclusive and Mr Gers said the company would be looking to offer the mobile channel through other US operators.

"The US is a great place to start with this because mobile TV is taking off faster [there]. It's a scale thing. The market is so big that the chances of hitting your return are much better there," he said.


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