Mobile Expected To Be The Big Winner At World Cup 2010

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The 2010 World Cup in South Africa will kick off on June 11, and many expect the series of games to be a tipping point for mobile — and mobile video — in particular.

At the minimum, cellphones will play a much larger role in the games than in the 2006 series, when the iPhone didn’t even exist. Nielsen said when they polled consumers, fans said they will check-in with the games on mobile with surprising regularity. Globally, 21 percent said they would get information the Internet on their phones, and 9 percent said they’ll find out the latest through mobile applications.

Because fans will tune in from around the world, the timing of games will be inconvenient for many, making a cellphone perhaps the easiest screen to get in front of during an important match.

Here’s just some of the options:

— In Africa, more than 10 mobile TV broadcasting networks are expected to launch in time for the games. FIFA, the major soccer governing body, said it will also be offering live coverage, specifically tailored to mobile phones for the first time.

— ESPN’s 24/7 mobile sports television network will be available through an agreement with Sprint (NYSE: S) and on the FLO TV and MobiTV platforms via AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon. It will feature live coverage of 46 matches from ESPN (NYSE: DIS) and ESPN2 telecasts except the eight on concurrent match windows, June 22-25.

— Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) is launching a new mobile site dedicated to covering the World Cup, including up-to-the-minute scores, schedules, standings, news and player profiles. The mobile site at m.yahoo.com/worldcup is available in 40 markets covering 13 languages, and is optimized for more than 4,500 different types of mobile devices.

— There’s plenty of iPhone and Android apps, too. On the iPhone, ESPN has an official one for free that provides live scoring, tournament stats and free “video vignettes” profiling all 32 teams. The Android apps all seem a bit less official.

— Besides content, many are also expecting this to be a home run for advertising. Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) is the

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