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Sony to Offer Mobile Movie, TV Content

11 Oct, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Oct. 11 announced a distribution deal with Thumbplay Inc., a New York-based direct-to-consumer content provider for broadband-enabled mobile cell phones.

SPHE content is available to download in the form of games, ringtones and wallpaper and features current theatrical release Open Season, in addition to Spider-Man 3, The Benchwarmers, The Da Vinci Code, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Underworld: Evolution, Silent Hill, The Grudge 2 and The Pink Panther, among other titles.

Television programs include “Bewitched,” “The Boondocks,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Days of Our Lives,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Jeopardy.”

Content is available at www.thumbplay.com in either $5.99, $7.99 or $9.99 monthly subscription plans or a-la-carte at $1.99 for wallpaper and $2.99 to $3.99 for individual ringtones.

“There's a big demand for [mobile] content from television and especially from movies,” said Are Traasdahl, founder and CEO of Thumbplay.

The site, which claims about 5.3 million mostly young unique visitors per month, does not at the moment offer SPHE movies or TV episodes for download, although the studio would appear to be leaning toward video downloads akin to what is available for Apple's video iPod.

Eric Berger, VP of mobile entertainment with SPHE, said distribution of video content via mobile phones has been “absolutely in [Sony's] road map” for some time.

He said SPHE has a pay-per-view movie distribution deal with another mobile phone carrier.

“We expect that the direct-to-consumer market will get to video eventually, it's just a very young market at this point in time, but one we are pretty excited about,” said Berger.

Berger said adoption of mobile video in the U.S. is not predicated on development of larger handheld screen sizes. He called iPod video's screen size “pretty good.”

He said SPHE is also experimenting with packaged media memory cards that would be inserted into a phone similar to a DVD or UMD.

“It is absolutely movie quality on the [phone] screen,” Berger said of the memory cards. “It is a great experience.”

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