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NBC, UFC debut mobile TV iPhone apps

NBC Sports launched the Notre Dame Central application and the Ultimate Fighting Championship debuted a pay-per-view application, a signal that mobile television is on the up and up.

MobiTV powered both applications for Apple?s iPhone and iPod touch. Users of NBC Sports? application can now access live coverage of all eight University of Notre Dame home football games, while the UFC application lets fans buy and view live pay-per-view events via their handset.

?We want to deepen our relationships with major content providers such as these,? said Ray DeRenzo, chief marketing officer at MobiTV, Emeryville, CA. ?In the case of Notre Dame, we?ve had a very strong partnership with NBC and the university itself to create a compelling marketing outreach to promote the app.

?For UFC, the iPhone offers an interesting opportunity to explore in-app purchasing of its pay-per-view events,? he said. ?We?re seeing an acceptance among consumers of this premium content transaction model, which we?ve already seen in the cable industry.

MobiTV is looking at a transactional model featuring in-app purchasing of pay-per-view events, and eventually the introduction of advertising and sponsorships to subsidize the entry price for applications.

For example, applications that would cost $6.99 would cost much less with ads and sponsorships, say, $0.99.

The target demographic for the UFC application skews heavily male in the 18-34 range.

Notre Dame has a much broader appeal across demographics, according to MobiTV.

?NBC?s Notre Dame application is hitting the displaced fan, from a 27-year-old-male in California to a 78-year-old female in Chicago,? Mr. DeRenzo said. ?It?s an easy group to target because of their strong affinity to Notre Dame.?

Live Notre Dame football games on the iPhone
Fighting Irish diehards and college football fans nationwide can download the NBC Sports application to watch live coverage of each home game via 3G or WiFi on their iPhone and iPod touch.

The first live game available on the application was Sept. 5, a 35-0 Notre Dame victory over the University of Nevada.

In addition to live games, fans can watch video-on-demand highlights, including interviews, press conferences and full-game recaps from the NBC Sports archives.

The Notre Dame Central application also features a fully interactive schedule, offering live scoring, stats and news alerts.

Notre Dame Central Pregame Alerts play the fight song prior to each game, reminding fans to tune in.
The application will cover all Notre Dame home football games in 2009.

The next game versus Michigan State is on Sept. 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET, followed by a contest versus Washington on Oct. 3, also at 3:30 p.m. ET.

The Notre Dame Central application is now available for $6.99 in the App Store.

Users can also download the application via text message by sending the keyword IRISH to short code 43888. This call-to-action scrolls across the scoreboard during games.

Notre Dame, NBC and MobiTV are all promoting the iPhone application via their respective Web sites.

There is also signage in-venue at the events themselves, as well as a full-page ad highlighting the application in the game program.

MobiTV will also promote the application at fan rallies in South Bend, IN, demonstrating how the application works to groups of fans attending each football game.

As of now, NBC has not committed to any on-air mentions of the application, but that may be added over time.

The partners have created coasters that highlight the application and have the SMS call-to-action.

Guerilla marketing teams have been dropping those coasters into sports bars throughout the U.S. where Notre Dame fans congregate.

?Basically all of the ads we?re doing have a mobile call-to-action to discover and download the application, as well as spots on radio shows and outreach to alumni and boosters,? Mr. DeRenzo said.

Ultimate Fighting Championship goes mobile
The UFC is a U.S.-based mixed martial arts organization. Ana White serves as the president of the UFC, which is owned by Zuffa LLC under casino-moguls Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.

Programming is available in the U.S. on MTV Networks? Spike and via pay-per-view.

The UFC application is available in the App Store for $0.99.

For the first time, pay-per-view content is able to air on the mobile phone, according to MobiTV. Each UFC pay-per-view fight is $44.99.

Unlike pay-per-view TV, the fight will be available for an additional 24 hours for iPhone users to watch again.

The next fight is UFC 103 in Dallas, TX, on Sept. 19.

The UFC application is compatible with any iPhone with the 3.0 OS software and is able to work on WiFi, 3G and Edge networks.

In addition to watching pay-per-view fights with the UFC application, it also features exclusive video-on-demand stories, interviews, breaking news highlights, coverage of fight weigh-in events, Octagon Girl biographies and the schedule for all upcoming UFC events.

?The UFC does a lot of messaging to fans of mixed martial arts, and the organization has a large opt-in mailing list, so we?ve sent blasts out across that list,? Mr. DeRenzo said.

MobiTV has run mobile advertising in the past to promote CBS?s March Madness NCAA basketball application.

The company bought mobile inventory to feature that application in banner ads and bought mobile keywords to enhance search engine optimization.

?We?re doing many of the same things to promote these applications,? Mr. DeRenzo said. ?We?ve bought inventory through a relationship with Yahoo and they target the message appropriately.

?Advertising and sponsorship will play a more important part in these applications going forward,? he said. ?They won?t be free, but possibly subsidized.

?We look at the iPhone as a platform for innovation for MobiTV, because it?s a lot easier for us to build apps and introduce new functionality on the iPhone platform than it is to update MobiTV?s core [on-deck] product.?