Fox Mobile's Bitbop On Demand TV Plans Detailed
With Saturday's iPad launch just a day away, TechNewsDaily caught up with Chris Hoerenz, chief marketing officer for Fox Mobile to talk about his plans for Bitbop, the first mobile on demand TV service for all major carriers and most phones including iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. He confirmed the company is currently in "active conversations with both Apple and our content partners" concerning the iPad.
With a service that's compatible with iPhone, an iPad version may not be far away. But because the iPad does not support Flash, the current standard for streaming video, content providers have been challenged to either build an iPad app or reformat content in HTML5, a rival video platform that works on the iPad. Fox Mobile's iPad plans may not be finalized yet, but it's only weeks away from launching Bitbop on cell phones.
"I wouldn't say it's the Wild West, but the entire industry is trying to figure out exactly where [the iPad] fits into the mobile landscape," Hoerenz said.
Hulu is rumored to be creating a mobile version of its popular Internet TV site for phones and the iPad. Hulu CEO Jason Kilar told the New York Times that he is considering "subscriptions as a complement to the ad-supported model."
Limited versions of network sites are available for selected mobile phones. ABC opted for an iPad app, so it will come out of Saturday's gate with the same amount of content available on its Web site. CBS is reformatting episodes in HTML5 so they can be streamed online via iPad's Safari browser, and will offer only "Survivor" and other short clips. Both ABC and CBS content will be free, but supported with plenty of ads. Some network shows will be available for a fee in the iTunes store.
For instance, one episode of “The Simpsons” will cost $1.99 (and $2.99 for high-def). The Nielsen Company reports American households average more than eight hours of television viewing a day. That could get expensive very quickly.
Fox Mobile's Bitbop is $10 monthly fee for unlimited service, and offers the largest selection of full episode content without any ads.
"We expect to have all the major networks and content providers available for our audience," Hoerenz said. Bitbop showed content from Fox, NBC, USA, Animal Planet, Discovery, TLC, National Geographic, Bravo, and Syfy at the product unveiling last week at the CTIA wireless convention in Las Vegas. The service will offer full episodes of popular shows including Mythbusters, 24 and The Office.
So far, it looks like Bitbop is the only big player that opted for a subscription supported service without in-program ads. "We don't want to interrupt that experience. Our plan is not to have any advertising in the core subscription component. We will not compromise the user experience," Hoerenz said.
Bitbop subscribers can download shows for times when they may be out of network range , like on a plane or in the subway.
Bitbop is scheduled to launch later this Spring, Hoerenz said. Anyone interested in trying the service can request an invitation to the test version at Bitbop.com/beta.