Fox News Preps Paid Apps — But Starts With A Free One

While it may seem that every major media outlet has had an iPhone app available for some time, there are a few holdouts. Fox News Channel has been one, but the News Corp (NYSE: NWS). cable net will announce the launch of the iPhone app later today. In a conversation with paidContent, Jeremy Steinberg, FNC’s VP for digital sales & business development, says the network didn’t feel there was a need to rush into the app space until advertisers were ready for more serious placements. In the meantime, FNC doesn’t plan to rely solely on ad revenues for its mobile offerings, as Steinberg says that the network is developing some paid apps for release later this year.

While FNC has tended to trounce CNN in many of the most important TV ratings categories, the CNN iPhone app has held the number one slot in paid news apps since it first went on sale last September for $1.99. Since the FNC app is free, the two won’t be directly competing. But FNC’s entry into the app market may allow it to build up some interest before unveiling a paid app later on.

In looking at the mobile ad landscape, Steinberg sees it as still between experimental and meaningful. “A lot of advertisers in the space are looking at expanding their footprint, and over the past year, with the growing adoption of the iPhone and now the iPad, eyeballs are really turning to mobile apps,” Steinberg says. “In all the conversations we have with advertisers today, mobile always comes up.

“That said, we feel strongly that it’s necessary to create a significant dual revenue stream to match what we have at the cable network,” he adds. “So there will be paid mobile apps down the road and we will offer unique, premium content.”

The FNC iPhone app does have a noteworthy sponsor in Sprint (NYSE: S), which will be the exclusive advertiser for the next month and could try to capitalize on users’ frustration with the AT&T-powered connection for the Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) device. For now, there are no plans to release an app for Google’s Android, though Steinberg said one is likely.

As for the iPhone app itself, it will offer live streaming video as well as clips and news updates. The app will also promote listening to Fox News Talk Radio with live streams.