Best of CTIA: MobiTV Gets Biz-y

Written by Michael Stroud.

MobiTV unveiled Mobi4Biz at the CTIA conference in San Francisco this week, the first in a planned series of TV channel mashups that will allow the mobile television company to repurpose mainstream TV for specific vertical markets. The new “channel of channels” — set to launch initially in late October exclusively on AT&T’s forthcoming BlackBerry Bold – will include video-on-demand, customizable stock tickers, and breaking news from Fox Business, CNBC, Bloomberg and TheStreet.com.

The rollout is “part of a larger strategy for verticals in different markets” and precedes the launch in the months ahead of channel mashups for children and sports programming, among others, says Jay Hinman, director of partner and product marketing. The company already has a strong Spanish language service on Sprint, AT&T and Alltel that combines more than 25 channels such as Telemundo and Azteca America.

MobiTV could use some new content to juice its business. While it recently topped 4 million subscribers, its rate of growth appears to have slowed somewhat. It also faces intensified competition from Qualcomm’s MediaFlo service and carrier initiatives.

The company is hoping to ride the tailwind of the BlackBerry Bold, which has an iPhone-like feel and screen resolution. The service will be aimed at other carriers after an unspecified period of exclusivity on AT&T. Pricing also wasn’t announced.

The new service represents another way of monetizing licensed content from media companies. You can already pay $9.95 a month on AT&T mobile phones for unlimited access to more than 45 TV channels, including the ones that will part of the Mobi4Biz offering.

MobiTV’s portfolio of licensed TV shows already includes the building blocks for new mobile verticals: Disney Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and ToonWorld for children; ESPN and NBC Sports (which will likely include its own customizable sports ticker) are also on the way.

Michael Stroud runs iHollywoodForum, a digital media event and media company in Los Angeles.