Palo Alto, Calif. - mSpot Mobile Movies, a movie-streaming service for cellphones, launched today with a selection of 350 full-length movies available to select phones operating on any major carrier's network.
Previously, only Sprint offered an over-the-air movie-streaming service to U.S. consumers, and it's available only to Sprint subscribers, said a spokesman for mSpot, which white labels Sprint's service.
Mobile Movies, mSpot's first direct-to-consumer movie offering, is available to any U.S. carrier's subscribers across 30 different handset devices, including the iPhone and BlackBerry, Palm and Windows Mobile-based smartphones. The company expects to make its service compatible with 100 phones by year's end. The service is targeted to young males and parents with children, the spokesman said.
"mSpot is the first company to give mass audiences instant access to quality, full-length feature movies on their cellphones," said mSpot CEO Daren Tsui. "This is made possible through technology we developed and the relationships we've created with studios, labels and distributors."
To stream movies, consumers aren't required to download an mSpot app to their phone. Instead, consumers use a phone's existing Web browser to access the mSpot site, select a movie, and pay for it by credit card. The mSpot server recognizes the brand and model of phone connected to it and delivers a video stream optimized for that phone. The company's server currently hosts 18 different versions of every movie title in the mSpot catalog to provide compatibility with 30 different phone models. The versions vary by codec, bit rate and aspect ratio.
The company currently offers movies from Paramount and Universal, who have granted streaming rights to new releases and past movies. mSpot said it plans to announce additional content partners this year to expand its catalog in the coming months to "thousands" of movies.
All titles are available for $4.99. Depending on the title, viewers have anywhere from 24 hours to five days to view the entire movie once they press the play button for the first time. Consumers can interrupt viewing throughout the period and resume playback from where they left off.
Sprint has offered mSpot full-length movie streaming for three years under the Sprint brand, and viewership "has been good," the mSpot spokesman said. mSpot also delivers music, radio and TV services through carriers to more than 6 million mobile subscribers across 10 carriers.