|Verizon Pitches Mobile Video|
By ANTON TROIANOVSKI
Verizon Communications Inc. Chief Executive Lowell C. McAdam said the company could have a wireless video service by year-end that lets pay-TV subscribers see some content on their mobile devices if regulators approve a proposed cable partnership.
Mr. McAdam said an "integrated" service could be made available to customers of Verizon Wireless, Verizon's pay-TV service and its new cable-company partners.
"We could have something out that would be the beginnings of an integrated offering in time for the holidays," he said.
Verizon is seeking approvals from the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice for $3.9 billion in deals to buy spectrum licenses from Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications Inc. The companies also reached agreements that would allow Verizon and the cable companies to sell each other's products. Critics have called the deals anti-competitive, charging that they signal a truce between longtime rivals.
Serving up TV shows and movies on mobile devices—and getting paid for it—has been a long-held dream for the wireless industry. With the introduction of next-generation high-speed wireless networks and big-screen devices like Apple Inc.'s latest iPad, ubiquitous mobile video seems closer than ever.
Some cable companies already allow subscribers to watch some TV channels at home on mobile devices, such as the iPad. But cable operators have negotiated fewer rights to offer such services outside of the home.
Yet as more video content moves to mobile devices, Mr. McAdam sees consumers able to pick and choose what content they want to buy rather than paying for bundles of dozens of channels as they do in the TV universe.
"Most content providers realize that the number of channels and the layout that you have within your home may not be appropriate for the mobile environment, and those discussions are just beginning now," Mr. McAdam said. Some content providers, he said, "have come to us and have said, 'We are willing to do an à la carte approach here.'"
Mr. McAdam's comments reflect a debate about whether consumers should have more choice over the TV channels available from cable, phone and satellite operators. With the amount of cheap online video options increasing, and little growth in the traditional pay-TV industry, some media executives have acknowledged the need for letting consumers choose smaller packages of channels that would cost less.
Still, many entertainment companies that own cable channels have resisted a move away from the bundled model. They fear that without the bundle, their content might not see as much demand from consumers. Mr. McAdam said on Thursday that he believes that in the mobile world "customers will eventually win out," adding that Verizon wasn't "the ones" pushing the existing bundles.
Cost considerations could limit consumption of video on mobile devices. Buyers of the new iPad, which runs on new high-speed "LTE" networks being rolled out by Verizon and AT&T Inc., have found that watching just two hours of mobile video can run through $30 worth of wireless data.
Mr. McAdam said that Verizon, like AT&T, is looking at ways to bill content providers for the data their offerings consume, thereby exempting them from counting against consumers' allotments of data. But he said he didn't view such arrangements as necessary for mobile video to be adopted more broadly, predicting that data prices would fall and consumers would become willing to pay more for wireless services.
"On the wireless side, I think the bill will probably go up because people are going to be using it a lot more," Mr. McAdam said.
—Shalini Ramachandran contributed to this article.