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Choosing Mobile TV Channels

Want to watch ESPN on your cell phone? Then you’d better be a Verizon subscriber. TR helps you navigate the new universe of mobile TV services.
January 9, 2006

[Click here for Technology Review’s interactive graphic on mobile TV services.]

TV delivered to your cell phone: It’s a long-promised innovation that is finally seeing daylight. For consumers, it’s bringing the opportunity to watch familiar channels like Fox News, E!, and Disney on the go, perhaps while they’re waiting in line for a latte or riding the bus to work. For cellular carriers, it offers the chance to charge customers an additional $10 to $15 per month for basic video service, plus extra fees for pay-per-view shows or a la carte channels. And for the networks, which get a big slice of those fees, mobile TV offers a potential source of revenue at a time when many advertisers are losing interest in traditional broadcast TV advertising.

In fact, cellular carriers, broadcast networks, and software makers see mobile TV as a potential gold mine, and are rushing to form alliances and create channel lineups that will appeal to cell-phone owners. (For the full story on this competition, see our recent report ”The Small Screen,” which also appears in the December 2005/January 2006 issue of Technology Review.)

At the moment, consumers trying to choose a mobile TV provider have no way to directly compare the various content packages on offer. So we’ve developed an interactive information graphic to help people shopping for cellular service navigate the increasing tangle of tiny-screen TV options. As you’ll see, the mobile TV services you prefer – CBS, CNN, Univision, Comedy Channel, etc. – might just help determine which cell-phone carrier you pick.

Information graphic by Tommy McCall
Flash programming by Geoff Allman

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