RealNetworks is hitting the road with RealOne Mobile, a service that brings audio and video news updates to Sprint PCS Vision cellular phones. The service costs $4.95 a month and includes content from Fox Sports, CBS Marketwatch, the Weather Channel, NPR and ABC News.
"By the end of next year every new wireless device will have the ability to stream audio and video live off the Internet," says Bernie Gershon, ABC News.com senior vice president and general manager. "So we think this is a great way to extend the ABC News brand to mobile professionals domestically and, eventually, worldwide."
Mark Donovan, RealNetworks director of strategy and marketing, says the company is focused on the Sprint deployment for the near term but that he expects it to be available via other mobile carriers in the near future.
"We're talking to all the major operators in the U.S. and Europe on a variety of fronts, including media services and media delivery infrastructure," he adds.
True video delivery to cell phones isn't possible yet but it is possible to deliver four frames of video per second, allowing for slide-show presentations in conjunction with the audio reports. About 90 pieces of content will be available every day. "The focus is on building a business model that works for Sprint, ourselves, and the content providers," says Donovan.
Gershon says the deal is similar in structure to the one ABCNews has for RealOne's SuperPass. That model calls for content providers to get a small payment per subscriber.
Gershon says the audience is different from the SuperPass audience. SuperPass users are more interested in entertainment or having access to song files, while RealOne Mobile customers are expected to be interested in getting news information while travelling.
"This is similar to the broadband market three-to-four years ago," says Gershon. "And we see the technology increasing and improving dramatically in the next few years."