Qualcomm's live mobile TV service goes nationwide on Friday

Qualcomm’s live mobile TV service, FLO TV, goes national on Friday as the digital TV transition frees airwaves for new technologies.

San Diego-based mobile tech company Qualcomm said the service can now reach more than 200 million potential viewers, who can use cell phones to watch live TV. The digital TV transition, where TV signals will move from the older analog wave signals to digital signals, will take place on June 12.

Qualcomm said FLO TV is set to expand into 39 new markets, adding an additional 60 million potential customers. The company already has FLO TV service in more than 60 markets.

Fifteen new markets will go live on June 12, including Boston, Houston, Miami and San Francisco. Other markets will be added throughout the year.  Immediately upon the transition, FLO TV also will expand service in existing markets including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. The FLO TV network gives consumers access to broadcast-quality TV news, sports, and other entertainment.

In January, Qualcomm’s FLO TV division said it teamed with auto entertainment system maker Audiovox to supply FLO TV for systems that can get reception for the service in cars. Qualcomm set up its own dedicated mobile network and built the radio technology into its cell phone chip sets. It has also secured programming from entertainment brands including CBS, ESPN, FOX, MTV and NBC.

FLO TV also offers original shows. Last month, it cut a deal with video blogger Amanda Congdon to bring exclusive content to subscribers. Market researcher Nielsen reported that mobile video viewing grew 52 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to a year earleir. Qualcomm says that FLO TV users spend an average of 25 minutes a day watching TV on their phones.

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