Verizon Wireless today officially launched its VCAST Mobile TV service in 20 U.S. markets, including Denver, Kansas City and Albuquerque, N.M. The service, which uses Qualcomm's MediaFLO broadcast network, will feature eight channels including CBS, NBC, ESPN, Comedy Central and MTV. Each channel will broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with programming that embraces simulcast, time-shifted and archival content. Pricing for VCAST Mobile TV is $15 per month, or $25 per month for unlimited Mobile TV, pre-existing VCAST services and mobile Web access. The service will make its debut using the Samsung SCH-u620 device but more handsets will be added.
The pricing for the service seems a bit steep, although Ken Hyers, analyst with Technology Business Research, says he expects that the price will decline as Verizon rolls out more markets. "The goal is to get the early adopters first and this pricing is not a problem for early adopters," Hyers says. Nevertheless, the price will have to decline to appeal to the mass market.
Another issue is how Verizon will differentiate VCAST Mobile TV from its VCAST streaming service. The similarity of the names may be confusing to consumers. But Hyers says that the company has several months to experiment with the marketing and pricing before AT&T (formerly Cingular Wireless) enters the market with its comparable broadcast TV service.
- see this Wireless Week article