Modeo Charges Into Mobile-Video Arena

Crown Castle Mobile Media LLC arrived at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show Wednesday with a new name and more details about its fledgling mobile-multimedia and TV-broadcast service.

Sporting its new Modeo name, the subsidiary of cellular-tower operator Crown Castle International Corp. unveiled an ambitious plan to roll out a mix of TV video, custom mobile video and audio content to the top 30 U.S. cities by the end of 2007. Among the first markets targeted for 2006 rollout is New York.

The Modeo service will use the Digital Video Broadcast Handheld (DVB-H) standard, flowing across licensed 5-megahertz spectrum nationwide that Crown Castle snapped up in a 2003 Federal Communications Commission auction.

The company has already completed a consumer trial in Pittsburgh and, based on that, it plans to field a content service mixing news, sports, music and podcast content.

While the final content mix hasn’t been pinned down, the Modeo service will probably concentrate on linear-TV and radio-channel content rather than on-demand, according to Modeo president Michael Schueppert.

“That’s where the bulk of video and audio consumption is today, and that’s where the best video products are,” he said.

For video, Modeo will offer a mix of short and longer-format programming, ranging from repurposed TV shows to exclusive mobile-video content.

“We think the bite-sized model is important, but we also think the ability to properly cater for people with somewhat longer attention spans is desirable, as well,” Schueppert said. He added that during the Pittsburgh trial, “nobody gave us feedback that they felt that viewing became uncomfortable after some length of time.”

While the initial phase is complete, the Pittsburgh service is still up and running, fielding about 10 video and 20 audio channels to 50 or so users. Modeo is using the Pittsburgh service to test combinations of TV and audio channels in order to hone in on the right package, Schueppert noted.

And Modeo’s business plan doesn’t stop at the top 30 markets.
“The U.S. is a big place, and certainly, there is a whole big market that we can address beyond the top 30 markets,” Schueppert said. “Certainly, we are already thinking about that, but we want to make a big commercial splash and a big success in this in ’06.”