May 17, 2007
ABC/Sprint Deal Pushing for Mobile Content in Linear Channel/VOD

Earlier this week, news was released about a partnership between Sprint and Disney-ABC for an extensive spread of mobile content for that service provider. In short, Sprint will offer what is being described as three "linear" channels through their mobile service which will feature content from the Disney Channel, ABC, and ABC News. This content will also be available through VOD as well.

The ABC channel will be called ABC Mobile, a newly created mobile brand which will feature content from both ABC News and entertainment, including both short clips from the news and full episodes of some of the top ABC shows.

The Disney channel will feature full-length episodes from some of the top Disney content as well.

The VOD option will allow consumers to see shows the day after they appear on television and all the way back to the four most recent episodes in a particular series. According to Beth Duggan of TelevisionWeek, "The Disney-ABC Television Group content can be accessed throug hteh Sprint Power Vision TV Pack, and Disney Channel content will be available as part of the Power Vision Access Pack. Customers will pay an addition fee per month for both services."

I've written about Sprint's deal with TiVo earlier this month, and about the continued danger of exclusive gated services. In this case, ABC is merely finding another channel for its content to expand it out even further, which seems to be a valuable extension for everyone involved. ABC gets their content out through a new platform, while Sprint gets more content for its expanding video service. Meanwhile, the percentage of ABC viewers who are also Sprint subscribers benefit, and one hopes that ABC is moving forward with creating arrangements to make content available through an increasing number of other mobile service providers as well.

Pricing may be an issue, since the channels will cost extra, and at least so far mobile content prices have often seemed price outside the range of most people who would be otherwise interested in the content.

The ABC News Now channel is part of an ongoing push for the network to have news content available 24 hours a day, and to make its news programs on the main network only a small "showcase" portion of that overall news division.

ABC News Now features content already online and through a cable channel that hasn't gotten significant play or distribution. The change in title reflects this attitude, as I wrote about last July, when the company decided to drop references to temporality from the title of the news show, transforming it from World News Tonight to simply World News.

I wrote about ABC's extension to push its news into transmedia spaces last May and last September.