SBJ/March 13 - 19, 2006/This Weeks News

Cingular taking Madness mobile

Cingular and CBS have struck a deal to provide NCAA men’s basketball tournament-related video and other elements to Cingular phone subscribers.

Cingular, one of the NCAA’s three Corporate Champion companies, will make the service available with the start of the tournament this week to subscribers with video-enabled phones in 16 major markets. Content will include daily highlight packages, tournament analysis and, in what is believed to be a first for the industry, a bracket challenge contest specifically designed for wireless devices.

Terms of the exclusive deal were not available, and though it does not include direct feeds of live content, the relationship is a new benchmark for how a wireless phone sponsor can leverage its rights into exclusive content for a marquee event.

Not that the tournament will be free of ambush marketing in the mobile space.

Sprint has teamed with Chicago-based production and marketing firm Intersport to create a series of tournament-themed coaches’ and analysis shows for its wireless subscribers. The Sprint service will not include any game highlights or NCAA-licensed content, but instead will operate as a news service.

With both the Cingular and Sprint packages, video clips will be cut and packaged specifically for the mobile platform. Given the small screens of cell phones, CBS will focus on more close-in and under-the-basket shots. The strategy is the same as one currently employed by ESPN for its mobile venture.

Staff writer Ryan Basen contributed to this report.

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