AT&T Bows Mobile TV After Months of Delays

AT&T planned to launch its months-delayed mobile TV service on May 4 in 58 markets — provided through Qualcomm subsidiary MediaFLO USA — with 10 channels of cable and broadcast programming.

In its announcement last Thursday, AT&T positioned the CNN channel as “exclusive … on MediaFLO USA's FLO TV service.”

CNN Worldwide director of public relations Jen Martin, however, reiterated that the news network has not granted AT&T exclusive mobile-distribution rights. She pointed out that Sprint Nextel has offered the news network's live mobile TV channel, through MobiTV, for the past year.

The 24-hour CNN Mobile Live provides live streaming video from as well as from programs including American Morning, Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN Election Center, Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360 and CNN International.

The AT&T Mobile TV service, originally slated to be available in the fourth quarter of 2007, will carry MediaFLO's same core group of eight channels that Verizon Wireless carries with the V Cast Mobile TV service. That lineup comprises CBS Mobile, ESPN Mobile TV, Fox Mobile, NBC 2Go, NBC News 2Go, MTV Networks's Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.

The service's pricing is in line with Verizon Wireless, with a limited four-channel package at $13 per month (CBS Mobile, Fox Mobile, NBC 2Go and NBC News 2Go); $15 per month for the basic package, which includes unlimited access to mobile TV; and a Mobile TV Plus package for $30 per month, which includes unlimited Mobile TV, unlimited mobile Web browsing and unlimited mobile video-on-demand.

AT&T's mobile-TV service will include one channel that does appear to be exclusive among mobile carriers: a movies-on-demand service from Sony Pictures Television, called PIX. The channel will feature full-length movies from Sony's studios including Bugsy, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Philadelphia.

In addition, according to AT&T, for the next 60 days its Mobile TV service will exclusively carry CNCRT, a 24-hour concert channel delivered by Control Room, a producer and distributor of entertainment programming. The CNCRT channel will air about 30 recently recorded concerts from recording artists including Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, Jay Z, Sheryl Crow, Akon and Daughtry.

The mobile TV service will be available in 58 markets including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Amid all the hoopla surrounding mobile TV and video, recent research suggests that most consumers aren't very interested in watching on their wireless phones. One survey, sponsored by QuickPlay Media, found that 47% of consumers aged 18 to 34 don't know whether their carrier offers any video services.

AT&T Mobile TV will require consumers to purchase one of two new handsets: LG Electronics' Vu ($299.99 with two-year service agreement and after a $100 mail-in rebate) or Samsung's Access ($199.99 with a two-year service agreement and after a $100 mail-in rebate).

The phone company said it would provide additional information, including service, programming and handset details, at beginning May 4.