Cingular Wireless has signed a deal to offer streaming video of HBO shows, including the "Sopranos," "Sex and the City," "Rome" and "Six Feet Under," on mobile phones.
The deal is part of the Cingular Video service that the carrier plans to launch early next year. The service would be available to consumers with cellular phones capable of accessing the company's high-speed service.
In promoting the upcoming shows, Cingular made available Friday through its Internet access service, called Media Net, ring tones, graphics and games related to the HBO programming.
Cingular plans to offer the content on two exclusive services developed with the cable network. HBO Mobile will offer select episodes and scene clips of the HBO shows. In addition, the service will offer HBO cartoons, comedy and sports.
HBO Family Mobile provides educational and entertainment programming designed for children, including "Crashbox," "A Little Curious," "Frog Blues," and "El Perro Y El Gato."
Other wireless carriers, such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint, offer streaming video. The services, which carry advertising and a subscription fee, are expected to help carriers profit on the billions of dollars spent on building high-speed networks.
But there's still a big question as to how fast consumers in the United States will take to watching video on a phone's small screen. Research firm EMarketer forecasts that by 2009 15 million people, or less than 1 percent of the total number of U.S. subscribers, will be watching TV on mobile phones.
U.S. consumers also have been reluctant to use other data services. In October, fewer than 10 percent of mobile subscribers had used their phone's browser to get news and information, send a photo message or purchase a ring tone, according to EMarketer. Fewer than 5 percent had bought wallpaper or a screen saver or downloaded a game.