As licensors continue to navigate the world of wireless, DIC Entertainment is heading in a new direction with Atlanta, Georgia’s SmartVideo. Using its proprietary video-compression technology, SmartVideo will bring the DIC Kids Network (along with channels powered by NBC Universal and the Weather Channel for grownups) to data-enabled phones in the U.S. this spring.
Unlike video subscription services on offer from major carriers such as Verizon, SmartVideo CEO Richard Bennett says his company’s product will be sold directly to consumers through prepaid access cards available at wireless equipment and accessories stores. The user hits the SmartVideo website from the browser on his/her phone, punches in an access code, and then the company downloads a button onto the phone’s interface. After that, the user simply clicks on the button to watch SmartVideo streaming TV. Bennett says the service is compatible with all data-enabled phones currently on the market and will not require users to purchase newer, smarter models. (Verizon’s VCast demands a new generation of phone handset to work.)
Right now, Bennett is keen to acquire more kids content, adding that the pass-back factor makes it ‘a killer app.’ He’s looking to build out an entire children’s section featuring programming segmented by age, from preschool on up. Bennett currently sets up content licensing deals in two ways. He either offers a fixed price per subscriber per month to the licensor; or with premium properties and content, he’ll work out a revenue-sharing deal.
DIC has licensed its entire catalogue to SmartVideo, and this content will be accessible in a VOD-type format: Kids can either select a particular show or tune in to a programming loop already in progress. SmartVideo will charge users an additional US$4.95 per month for the DIC premium channel on top of their regular US$12.95 monthly fee. Also, as it relies on the Internet for transmission, users will incur carrier broadband charges while viewing.