By RICHARD SIKLOS
The New York Times
March 5, 2006
IN some ways, wireless is the new China. Both are huge, largely
untapped markets for news and entertainment media companies. And media
executives have made a lot of dreamy statements about both of these
markets and funneled a lot of effort into them. Yet neither has yet
translated into a significant new businesses for established
companies, which are feverishly seeking ways to grow in a world of
technological and competitive obstacles.
While China's media moment seems eternally right around the corner,
mobile may be approaching its own at last -- it may just take a lot
longer and be less earth-shaking than the recent hoopla may suggest.
Last week, there were announcements of three ventures by media
companies looking to insinuate themselves into the hip pockets of
teenagers and their elders. All three are part of a deluge of wireless
moves and offer glimpses at new ways of both distributing existing
products and using big-media power to start new businesses.
In one of the deals unveiled last week, the MTV Networks unit of
Viacom said it would sell mobile versions of its MTV, VH1, CMT and
Comedy Central channels to Sprint customers; the services will include
video clips from shows including "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."
The most intriguing announcement came from a tentacle of the News
Corporation, in the form of Mobizzo, which is essentially a kind of
online studio and store for selling games, ring tones and adornments
for mobile handsets.
CBS, meanwhile, which is perhaps best known for its notably unhip
television network, plans to start a venture along the lines of
Mobizzo in a few weeks. For now, CBS unveiled a plan to sell
multimedia message alerts nationwide that will play short video clips
on some cellphones. In a way, CBS aims to show that it wants to
compete in this arena along with MTV, NBC and ESPN -- rivals that have
been making their content available across a range of new mobile
formats and gizmos.