Published December 13, 2005
NEW YORK – Using a mobile phone to buy movie tickets and check showtimes is one thing, but Sprint offers the whole movie.
Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) is expected to announce on Monday that it has begun selling a service which allows users of its mobile video phones to watch full-length movies, television shows, concerts and comedy specials.
Provided by vendor MSpot, the service offers unlimited shows and movies for a monthly flat fee of $6.95, on top of regular service charges.
The announcement comes as Sprint and other wireless phone services are looking to video content like TV programs, music and sports to boost revenue.
They also are spending billions of dollars building up their networks for mobile video and speedy Internet service so they can grow revenue despite cheaper calling plans and a shrinking pool of first-time wireless phone subscribers.
The initial lineup includes films that are far from anyone's first-run list.
Among them are "One-Eyed Jacks," the Marlon Brando-Karl Malden Western, as well as "Angel and the Badman" with John Wayne. Other titles include "Night of the Living Dead" and the most recent — "Short Circuit" from 1986.
"This is what we could get rights to quickly," said Dale Knoop, Sprint's general manager for multimedia services. He said the company and MSpot are in negotiations for more current content, but declined to say which studios are involved.
Sprint plans to debut seven new films a week.
Knoop also declined to say how many people have watched the films.
One question facing Sprint and the wireless industry is whether handheld-device users want to watch a feature-length film on a 2-inch or 3-inch screen.
Sprint found that many people have a shorter attention span when it comes to mobile phone video, a Sprint spokeswoman said. Allowing for that, the service lets viewers watch movies in segments, similar to a DVD.
Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) also is exploring longer video content. The company earlier this week said it would offer iPod downloads of full-length NBC-owned television shows, including recent ones such as "The Office" and "Law & Order," as well as older shows like "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Knight Rider."
It also offers replays of ABC programs "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost." The NBC and ABC shows cost $1.99 each.