Viacom CEO: Amp'd Gets Sponge Bob

At this morning's keynote address, Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman told the crowd that kids see cell phones as the No. 1 electronic device and parents are willing to pay substantial money for handsets for their kids.

But Dauman was here for more than just touting the importance of cell phones to youth. He also announced Viacom's deal with MVNO Amp'd Mobile to launch an exclusive "Sponge Bob" mobile channel in the second quarter, as well as an expanded partnership with Sprint that will result in 14 different live streaming and video-on-demand channels featuring Viacom content from MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central. Further signaling Viacom's growing focus on wireless, Dauman additionally announced plans to integrate mobile advertising into the mix, signing Pepsi and Intel as charter sponsors.

"The objective is to be everywhere our audience is," Dauman said. "Our brands are already everywhere on the planet, producing local content that resonates with local audiences. We are experts at finding out and delivering on what our audiences want. For young people, getting a mobile phone is a rite of passage--it's part of who they are and integral to their self-esteem."

But like so many of the speeches and pitches I've heard at CTIA Wireless 2007, Dauman's keynote was long on hopes and projections and short on ideas on how to make the market projections a reality. Everyone here talks about the promise of mobile content, but no one seems to know how to actually get there. It's time for the mobile content industry to borrow a page from the glory days of FM radio: Less talk, more rock. -Jason

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