Carriers Want a Share
More recently, MLB.com (Major League Baseball) has begun pushing wireless content. But unlike NASCAR, which focused on a single carrier partner in Nextel, MLB.com is courting multiple carriers. Such services mimic what began with financial services and the pushing of stock trade information wirelessly. Stock trade subscriptions succeeded as a text-based service. Today, Zawel said, color screens, faster networks and more capable devices have opened the door to similar offerings from the entertainment industry. MLB.com, Zawel said, "is treating it as a new line of business."Organizations such as NASCAR and MLB are testing wireless as a new channel through which they can provide entertainment and related offerings to fans, including downloadable ring tones and wall paper. MLB.com is using video in a partnership with Nokia, which is preinstalling an MLB.com icon on its 6600-series phones that opens to a menu of offerings that range from free, text-based reports on scores and standings to a $7.99 video-download service. But the service fees may be only the smallest element in the profit motive here. In a recent report, Zawel noted that carriers want a part of the retail action. They are not in the business simply for the nickel they receive in transport fees from a $2.49 screen saver. "As a retailer, carriers can promise to place content within their portals," he said. "The co-marketing option, which has been under exploited by carriers, is probably the most attractive element of a tighter relationship with an organization like MLB.com. "Theres big, big money still flowing from the wireless industry to the media and entertainment industries," Zawel said. And NASCAR profits from Nextels advertising and sponsorships. "Some of the carriers will advertise during baseball games or on the Disney channel. A lot of these deals are two-way. Theres a lot of co-marketing going on," Zawell said. "Certainly, its in the carriers interest to advertise this stuff. They need wireless data to save their business model," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis.
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