February 27, 2006 11:07 AM PST
CBS to offer subscription video for phones
Broadcast network CBS will start a new subscription service next week sending multimedia news and entertainment alerts to cell phones for a small monthly fee, the company said Monday.
The company will initially provide subscriptions to CBS News alerts, with video and pictures, for 99 cents a month. A similar subscription to entertainment content from Entertainment Tonight will cost $3.99 a month.
The news organization, as well as its sports and other divisions, has previously offered free text alerts for cell phones and has provided video for carriers' services such as Verizon Wireless' V Cast. The new subscription model will test whether consumers are willing to pay a bit more in order to have immediate access to video.
"Consumers want to see news and be a part of celebrity happenings as soon as video is available," Cyriac Roeding, CBS Digital Media vice president, said in a statement.
Broadcast TV companies have long seen cell phones as a way to strengthen connections with their viewers, but have not settled on a consistent revenue model.
ABC News has provided content through RealNetworks' RealOne service to Sprint and directly to AT&T, as well as traditional breaking news alerts, for example. But it also has sold images and ring tones based on its popular shows, and even provided a $1.99 monthly subscription to news and content from soap operas.
However, full video content is increasingly commonplace on cell phone networks, as carriers work to draw subscribers beyond ordinary calling plans into relatively more expensive data services.
Sprint announced Monday that it will begin offering subscriptions to Comedy Central, MTV and VH1 audio and video clip programming, for $5.95 a month apiece.