MTVN Makes Music With Sprint

MTV Networks is hoping mobile phones are a sound platform for its music-oriented content and — through a new deal struck with Sprint Nextel Inc. — it’s now expanding its strategy for the first time to include live audio streaming of more than a dozen of its Internet radio channels.

Under a deal announced last week, MTVN will supply not only on-demand video clips from popular CMT: Country Music Television, Comedy Central, MTV: Music Television and VH1 programs to the cellular broadband Sprint TV service, but also provide live streams from 15 of its 142 Internet radio stations. The channels range from VH1 Classic to MTV Hip Hop.

The Sprint TV service also offers a lineup of live TV channels, and that is something MTV Networks is looking at as well, said vice president of wireless strategy and operations Greg Clayman. But the first priority is to provide the on-demand and live radio channels.

“One of the things that is increasingly important — that we are increasingly focusing on — is music,” he said. “MTV and VH1 and CMT have been doing more and more and more music programming, and we’ve been looking at different ways we can infuse those brands with music.”

Sprint has already launched other streaming radio services, including Sirius Satellite Radio and MSpot, and the MTV Networks radio stations will complement them, said Jeff Hallock, Sprint’s vice president of wireless product strategy and marketing.

“Music and audio, when people are mobile, is not a brand-new idea,” he said. “We’re just allowing that to happen now and giving easy access to those things through the one device we know you will have on you all the time, which is your phone.”

Sprint’s high-bandwidth Evolution-Data Optimized network — which supports speeds between 400 Kilobits per second and 700 Kbps downstream from the network to the user — supports high-quality audio.

MTV Networks also liked Sprint’s data plans, which offer unlimited-usage content packages, starting at $10 per month. The programmer’s content would be offered as part of all of those plans, so customers won’t be hit with a big data-overuse charge if they listen to the MTV 100 Greatest Pop Songs channel for an hour. Other carriers offer monthly buckets of minutes or data for a per-minute fee, Clayman said.