Nine out of ten Italians owns a mobile phone, making the country a perfect environment to push 3G technology forward. Recent mobile video download successes with the Italian version of Big Brother have proved there is a market for the service.
Cartoon Network shows are now available to subscribers to 3's La Tua TV service. "Every day a looped block of content from the channel's TV broadcast is available as a high-quality video stream to 3's one million Italian subscribers," Luca Magani, the marketing director of Cartoon Network Italy, explains.
This content is available in portions that can be downloaded for as little as 0.90 euros. "Our shows are five, seven or 12 minutes long," Magani continues. "There's a huge source material for our target market of not just parents with children, but adults too."
The mobile video streams are identical to their broadcast counterparts, which means advertising is included. But, at present, this is not a primary source of revenue for Cartoon Network. "This is a long-term agreement between Cartoon Network and 3," Magani says. "Turner (Broadcasting System) has always been interested in pushing innovation and this example of mobile TV is the first in the world, a record we're proud of."
Content includes the series Samurai Jack, Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo and Ed, Edd & Eddy.
Cartoon Network is not alone in exploiting Italian demand for mobile content. Subscribers to 3 can also access clips from Fashion TV, the international TV channel dedicated to fashion.
"We started a dedicated mobile content division in September 2003," Xavier Leclerc, Fashion TV's mobile business development manager, explains. His department supplies content to 3 in Italy, Orange in France, and O2 and Vodafone in the UK. Hutchinson Wampoa in Hong Kong and CellCom in Israel are also partners.
The response has been very positive: Fashion TV serves more than 12 networks and is in negotiations with more than 20 countries. "We don't carry advertising because rates are too low at the moment," Leclerc says. "We currently share revenues with our partners, but as the medium grows in potential, things might change."
When it first launched in 2002, 3 led the market in mobile video content, offering goals to football fans, a service that Vodafone has been offering since Euro 2004. But the proposition is much wider now, with Italians able to access the news channel Rai News 24, a wide range of business updates and weather and traffic reports.
Launch date: August 2004
Content type: Five-, seven- and 12-minute streamed portions
Typical shows: Samurai Jack, Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo
Cost: From 0.90 euros