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Bitbop, the mobile video service once owned by News Corp. (NSDQ: NWS) and then sold in a whirr of a divestment strategy, looks like it is finding its feet again under new owner Jesta Digital. It’s now live with a mobile and PC-based mobile internet service in Germany, its first market outside of the U.S. — joining the likes of fellow internet video properties Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) and Hulu looking to grow their audiences by going abroad.
You might think that Bitbop sounds like just another premium internet video service — and frankly, it is — but what might give it a chance of success is that there still seems to be a lot of markets out there with very little competition: Bitbop claims that it is the first subscription service in Germany to offer streaming first wireless subscription service to deliver on-demand commercial-free television and films to personal computers, tablets and smartphones.
That’s a strategy that’s also being taken by Netflix in its launches in Latin America, which kicked off today. Hulu, which shows programming with ads in its home market of the U.S., last week launched an ad-free service in Japan, its first foray abroad.
BitBop Germany says it will give users access to 3,000 “world-class” German and American programs in an ad-free service that can be used on iOS and Android devices, as well as via the mobile Internet. It says the content can be either streamed or downloaded for offline viewing.
The commercial service follows a beta launch in Germany that started back in May. Like other streaming services, Bitbop is offering users a 14-day trial before putting them on a monthly rate of € 9.99 ($14) for unlimited access to all the content in its catalog. It first launched in the U.S. in August 2010 and has deals with companies like Verizon Wireless to preload links to Bitbop on their LTE devices (in that specific case, through the VCast store).
The announcement was timed to coincide with the IFA trade show in Berlin, which is on this week and has been the source of several other tech news breaks.
The content. Bitbop says at launch it will be aggregating content from 15 networks including several local enterprises such as ProSieben Group, HBO, ARD Video, ZDF Enterprises and MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA) Germany. Shows include “Stromberg,” “Damages,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Tudors,” as well as “Anna und die Liebe” and “Die Wochenshow” and “Sex in the City,” “The Sopranos” and “Entourage.” IT’s launching with an exclusive, which will be access to “Entourage” in the original English version — a big deal, considering how much foreign content is dubbed.
Why the move to Germany? The company-formerly-known as Fox Mobile Group has long had a presence in the country, starting with German mobile content venture Jamba, which Fox bought in 2006. Those services, though, have had peaks and troughs. Last November, mocoNews discovered that FMG laid off 15 percent of its staff in the country and in other operations.