In the news today is CNN’s new iPhone application, just as much for its features:
- Headlines and “My CNN” personalization
- iReport user generated content
- On-demand and live streaming video
as its price tag. A whopping $2. Not $2 month. $2 flat fee. ABC.com asks the logical question:
So why does CNN think readers will pay for its iPhone app instead of choosing one of its myriad free competitors?
Simply put, CNN thinks its app is better.
“It really depends on the quality and nature of what you’re putting into the market,” said KC Estenson, general manager for CNN.com.
Similary, CBS recently announced a new iPhone application, similar to its NCAA Basketball application for March Madness.
The “CBS Sports: College” app is now available at the Apple App Store for $9.99. At that price point, the app costs twice as much as the company’s March Madness app, which enabled iPhone users to stream all 63 games in the NCAA Men’s College Basketball tournament.
It’s also $9.99 more than CBS Sports is charging to stream games on the CBSSports.com Website.
The company is streaming all 15 SEC contests for free on CBSSports.com, with in-game statistics, as well as a scoreboard for other college games happening around the country. The online coverage will also have a live chat feature, video preview segments, and on-demand video highlights added during the game.
So why the price hike? This could be just speculation, but perhaps CBS is attempting to recoup its investment in an entire new platform based on Microsoft’s Silverlight technology.
Once the popularity of its college sports assets started gaining steam, CBS found that its old network couldn’t keep pace. To solve this problem they went to a consulting firm in Seattle, who surprisingly picked Microsoft technology, along with some other best in class internet components, to power the upgrade.
The initial launch of XXL was well received, and generated significant user registration and associated revenue for CBS College Sports. Since the launch, the user base has grown to over 1.5 million users. Similarly, CBS College Sports has been adding additional NCAA schools to the platform, and making their athletic content available. The increased load in both users and traffic was breaking the video portal in place. Feedback from customers also pointed out that video portal was difficult to use, non-intuitive, and limited to only working with Internet Explorer. CBS College Sports needed a solution that could scale and provide a consistent and enjoyable experience to users with all major web browsers. In addition, CBS College Sports has a library of over 65,000 video assets that the video portal makes available: because these assets are in Windows Media Video format CBS College Sports wanted to implement a solution that natively supports this format.
These include thePlatform, the video content management system, CBS College Sports’ proprietary CMS, Doubleclick for advertising, and the .NET User Registration and eCommerce application that Cypress wrote for version 1 of the portal.
CBS continues to add big name colleges and conferences to its lineup. The SEC was a major signing in 2008, primarily because CBS felt there was a large enough fan base, spread through out the country, that would pay a premium to follow the college colors:
- OTA (over-the-air) on HDTV
- OTT (over-the-top) on PC’s
- wirelessly on iPhones
And don’t think ESPN, owner of a lovely walled garden property in its EPSN360, doesn’t appreciate what is going on. For years it has been licensing the live sports virtual channel to ISP’s rather than individual subscribers.
Complicating this model is the growing plethora of devices available for watching internet video. Busy sports fans might want to start a game at home on their television, continue watching via cellphone on the train, catch another hour during their lunch break on a work computer, then finish the game back at home on TV. Preshlack insists that consumers will be able to enjoy that multiscreen experience, because ESPN will eventually license its content to every cable company, ISP and cellphone network provider in the country
Approaching the 50 million subscriber mark, just to make sure they get pricing right, ESPN has some big brains over at Wharton crunching the numbers. $2 is start to look pretty good right now.