CBS Creates Mobile Division

  |  February 12, 2007   |  Comments

CBS Mobile sets up WAP sites to distribute ad-supported content for CBS SportsLine and CBS News, plus a commerce site leveraging collateral from the network's shows.

Broadcaster CBS has formed a mobile division and launched three WAP-based sites to pair with existing on-deck content. The first channels include two ad-supported sites and a mobile store.

"Our mobile business has reached critical mass and is becoming a substantial business," CBS Mobile's new EVP Cyriac Roeding told ClickZ News. "It makes sense to make it its own division."

A CBS SportsLine WAP site provides sports scores in real time and the ability to manage fantasy football teams. A CBS News WAP site gives mobile users access to full news stories and images. Both WAP sites are ad-supported with banners running across the top of the content and elsewhere on certain pages.

"The content itself is somehow physically separated from the banner on top," commented Roeding. "Clearly one place where this is going to change over time is when the advertising can be integrated into the content you're accessing."

The third site included in the launch is a commerce site. At launch the site has more than 600 exclusive wallpapers and voice tones packaged especially for mobile use. The site also carries over 5,000 non-exclusive wallpapers and ringtones. Content is available by subscription or a la carte. The site also distributes "Dave TV" by subscription, a daily deliver of clips from the previous night's broadcast of David Letterman's show pushed to subscriber handsets.

Exclusive wallpapers distributed on CBS Mobile are called "Live Wallpapers" and consist of still images taken from the network's shows and made available within hours of broadcast.

"We are literally picking the most important moments and turning them into wallpapers in real time," said Roeding. "Those special moments and special events are very emotional, and we are turning them into wallpapers. That's what the cell phone is about, carrying personal [moments] with you."

CBS Mobile has jurisdiction over CBS properties including the CW channel and CBS Outdoor which includes billboards. Currently ads are being sold by CBS's existing sales team. However the mobile division has plans to add 25 positions over the next two months. The team will not operate alone, however, but according to Roeding, will be closely tied to sales with people who understand mobile inside and out.

Roeding said the mobile content is driven by innovation, "We are trying to be a leading edge player in the market." In time, additional WAP sites from other CBS properties and the CW are likely.

The CBS Mobile offering expands on services and content developed under the CBS Wireless division. Already content is available on deck with a handful of carriers including Verizon and AT&T/Cingular. To build the sites and manage on deck and off deck content, CBS Mobile partnered with Volantis. John Beale, VP of marketing at Volantis, said a presence both on and off deck is important for growing an audience. "Strategically it is very important for a company like CBS, who wants to be able to grow and control quality of content for mobile, but also wants to be able to have as much distribution to consumers as possible. Distribution is extended by being available on deck."

The move to put content on the mobile channel is a way for CBS to grow its brand and audience. "CBS sees mobile as a catalyst for the rest of its business," said Beale. "Looking at the complimentary nature of how it appeals to consumers in the mobile environment and how that might appear as a catalyst to the rest of its mediums."

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Enid Burns

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