Verizon Wireless yesterday launched its V CAST TV service making it the first U.S. operator to debut a broadcast TV service and the first to use Qualcomm's MediaFLO USA network. The industry will be closely watching this development to see whether customers flock to this new service.
Verizon hasn't always been the first to market with new entertainment services. In fact, Sprint launched its Sprint TV months before Verizon debuted its V CAST streaming video service over 1xEV-DO. Sprint also took the lead with over-the-air music downloads, launching that service in October 2005. Verizon followed later with V CAST Music in January 2006. When those events occurred, Verizon executives glibly explained that they weren't interested in being first to market. They were interested in delivering the best service.
So now the carrier is first to market with its broadcast TV service and everyone is wondering if mobile broadcast TV will live up to the hype and deliver a compelling service for consumers. I think we'll see a lot of experimentation with pricing and marketing before this service hits its stride with consumers. Verizon's pricing seems a bit high to me--$15 per month for V CAST TV or $25 per month for V CAST TV and V CAST video clips along with mobile Web service. I don't think those prices will appeal to the mass market. Of course, the operator can always reduce its monthly V CAST prices and I expect we'll see that happen over the coming months.
But I'd also like to see a daily fee for the service. Verizon currently lets consumers view V CAST streaming clips for $3 per day. I think a similar price plan for V CAST TV would eliminate sticker shock for many consumers and will let them experiment with the service before committing to the $15 or higher monthly fee.
I also question the logic behind the branding of the service. Will consumers understand the difference between V CAST Video and V CAST TV? Ken Hyers, analyst with Technology Business Research, believes that the operator may have greater success if it uses terms that consumers are already familiar with from cable TV services such as V CAST On Demand for the streaming video clips and V CAST TV for the broadcast service.
Initially Verizon's V CAST TV service will only be available in 20 markets. Surprisingly, one of those markets is Denver--home to many wireless technology journalists, including myself. I'll be interested to see how they market and promote the service locally. Let me know your thoughts on V CAST TV. -Sue