CBS has signed a deal with weather-information provider Weathernews Inc. (WNI) to deliver local news, weather and sports content from 10 of its owned-and-operated stations—including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles—to Sprint subscribers for a $4.99 monthly fee. CBS O&Os are contributing video to WNI’s "LiveLocal" service, which currently counts more than 80 stations nationwide as partners.
CBS appears to be hedging its wireless bets with the WNI deal, as 16 members of the CBS Television Stations Group—including nine of the aforementioned markets—are already involved with Capital Broadcasting’s News Over Wireless venture, which also provides station content to Sprint video-enabled phones for $4.99 a month. The News Over Wireless video service is currently being promoted under a "Wireless" tab on the stations’ Websites, which leads subscribers to information on the specific services they can get on their mobile phones.
Although only Sprint is currently handling video from CBS stations, both Verizon and Sprint already carry graphic and text-based weather services from News Over Wireless and WNI. Jonathan Leess, president/general manager of CBS Television Stations Digital Media Group, says mobile video is a natural extension of the "Always On" strategy that CBS stations began implementing in late 2004. He notes that both deals guarantee CBS stations exclusivity in their markets, in that neither WNI nor News Over Wireless can partner with other network affiliates.