As Hulu Hesitates, Bitbop Launches Mobile App

Mobile video is gaining traction but subscription-based mobile TV continues to struggle. However there are a few "brands" that could pull it off; Hulu is one of them. The NBC-Fox joint venture is preparing to launch a premium model (this month) and people continue to wait for a mobile version.

Subscription-based Netflix is moving ahead with mobile plans after the successful launch of its iPad app.

The US cable companies also have their cross-platform visions and plans. And now the Fox-backed Bitbop has launched. It's a movie and TV streaming service for mobile devices -- only BlackBerry for now. But other apps are coming. (The inclusion of movies is key to gaining acceptance of the subscription model.)

There are 25 content partners and a $10 per month premium version coming at some point. While the user experience is likely to be acceptable on the small screen -- Bitbop apparently will work on 3G as well as WiFi -- an iPad or Tablet version will likely be much better. But the larger idea represented by all these services and apps is "TV in the cloud" -- anytime/anywhere. This option will drive some number of people to subscribe to a "mobile TV" service. 

And with Internet TV poised (e.g., Google TV) to take off services like Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and possibly Bitbop become potential ways around cable fees.

Most people would rather pay $10 per month to watch their favorite shows and movies (even if delayed vs. cable and DVD) vs. $60 to $100 per month for premium cable. Of course none of these services offer sports, which is a big driver of cable subscriptions and retention. 

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