It’s not called Hulu mobile, but it probably should be. Fox’s Mobile Group has launched a mobile beta application that provides free access to full-length TV shows on your phone.
The strangely named application is called Bitbop, and quietly became available in beta as recently as today, a spokesperson confirmed. The service was expected to launch this spring, and since it’s being called a beta, things are still likely to change. For now, users can sign-up for a trial on its web site and the application is free and compatible on four BlackBerry phones.
It is practically a Hulu look-alike because it comes loaded with TV shows from 25 content partners, including Hulu’s joint venture partners News Corp (NYSE: NWS). and NBC Universal (NYSE: GE). While the catalog is not quite as extensive, other networks involved include: The Food Network, A&E, CBS (NYSE: CBS), TLC, USA and MTV.
Previously, Fox Mobile’s EVP of Global Products Joe Bilman told mocoNews that the application will be free, but in order to access to the whole catalog, a subscription will cost $10 a month. he said the service is expected to work over WiFi and 3G, and to support a variety of handsets, including the iPhone and Android-based smartphones. The web site only lists TV shows for now, but says movies will be coming soon.
The line-up of TV shows is includes some of the best from the TV networks’ current line-up, including episodes from “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Glee,” “24,” but also older stuff, like the first episode of “Arrested Development.”
It’s not entirely fair to say the service should be called Hulu Mobile. The big difference is that Bitbop is being produced by the Fox Mobile team, and not being co-developed by the partners that form Hulu’s independent management team. The other two obvious points is that it is a mobile service, and has a subscription service model from the start. The content owners are probably pleased to be able to try charging, rather than attempting an ad-supported model from the start and trying to charge later.