Fox, Viacom Dive Into Mobile Entertainment Market

Fox Mobile Entertainment has launched Mobizzo, a Web site that allows subscribers to access games, music and movies specifically for mobile phones. But Fox isn't alone in the race to give customers more than just a phone connection this week; Viacom properties MTV Networks and CBS Corp. cut their own deals to get in on the mobile entertainment action, as well.

Cingular and T-Mobile phones began offering Mobizzo's services this week, and the company said other U.S. carriers will soon follow. Mobizzo customers can download Fox's "Family Guy" and "American Dad," and movies like "Napoleon Dynamite," as well as download artwork, music from labels like Warner Music and access games from producers like I-Play and Airborne. Fees are charged directly to subscribers' monthly mobile phone bill and pricing will be competitive with a la carte offerings ranging from $1.99 to $2.49 and monthly subscription plans averaging $5.99 per month.

The new venture is hot on the heels of Fox's popular American Idol text voting success and its "24:Conspiracy" Mobisode mobile video series.

Lucy Hood, president of Fox Mobile Entertainment said the company has sold millions of mobile downloads already and knew the demand was there for more mobile applications.

"We believe Mobizzo will prove to be a truly unique proposition for consumers and mobile content providers alike; it's an innovative virtual place for fans to find their favorites and enjoy the benefits of competitive pricing and excellent customer service when shopping for mobile content," Hood said.

Expect to see ads soon. The company said it will begin a multi-million dollar consumer marketing campaign, including television, print, radio and outdoor, as well as viral marketing. It plans to roll the service out globally later this year.

Also this week, Viacom's MTV Networks announced that it is hooking up with Sprint to offer music, comedy and entertainment programming on Sprint TV. Sprint will also offer streaming radio from CMT, MTV and VH1.

Subscribers will be able to select clips from MTV Networks programs like "CMT Insider," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "Laguna Beach" and "Celebreality."

Greg Clayman, MTV Networks' vice president of wireless strategy and operations said, "No matter where they are, Sprint customers can now stay connected to the short-form programming they love on CMT, Comedy Central, MTV and VH1 and remain plugged into the latest trends in music, fashion, movies, comedy and more."

All four channels are currently available for $5.95 per month, per channel on Sprint multimedia phones.

CBS Corp. also announced this week that it would make news and entertainment alerts including video and pictures available to all mobile phones for a monthly service fee.

The "CBS Alerts," which will be called "CBS News To Go" and "ET To Go," will be available beginning next week. The service will include content from CBS News and Entertainment Tonight for monthly fees of 99 cents and $3.99.

Subscribers will be able to sign up for the service through their cell phones or online. They receive up to five alerts daily and have the option to read text and, if their mobile phone allows, see matching pictures and video. CBS Alerts will be available for all mobile phone models and wireless carriers.

In light of these announcements, the jury is still out about the future market for mobile video. An informal survey of 100 mobility experts attending a conference in New York this week found that experts believe the delay in producing an "all-in-one" product is higher cost to consumers and spending on infrastructure. However, that view contrasts sharply with an RBC Capital Markets survey of more than 1,000 consumers that shows that while 63 percent of experts think consumers want to watch TV or movies on their mobile devices, only 23 percent of the consumers surveyed expressed an interest.

The research company said the discrepancy is most likely due to the fact the market is in the early stages of an "evolution in mobility." RBC said even though consumers may resist the transition to a multipurpose product at first, all signs are pointing to it being widely adopted in the future.