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(Hand-Out/CNW Group)
(Hand-Out/CNW Group)

Bell to bring NFL to mobiles Add to ...

With mobile TV picking up pace in Canada post-Olympics, there has been a rush of sorts for big wireless companies to sign exclusive content arrangements to sweeten their smart phone offerings.

Rogers recently shelled out cash to rebrand Vancouver's GM Place the Rogers Arena, mainly to get access to exclusive Vancouver Canucks video. Telus, also recently, got access to CFL games. And today, Bell announced that it was inking an exclusive deal with the NFL to provide live game action on Bell smart phones.

It's $8 a month, but you'll have to pay extra if you shoot over your data allowance.

In an e-mail reply, Bell says the amount of data one would use to watch a live game ranges from 1MB to 3MB per minute. A three-hour game would therefore eat up between 180MB and 540MB of data, which is a fair chunk of bandwidth unless you have a very large data plan.

They sent me a phone yesterday, so I tried it out. It was neat. Live NFL games on your phone is pretty cool. And their RedZone zooms in and out of live game highlights in real-time on Sunday afternoons. I'm not a huge football fan, but that's pretty cool.

The picture quality, at least on the Motorola phone I used, was a little bit weak, and tended to skip frames when there was a lot of pummelling and action going on. That's, I suppose, to be expected. And die-hard fans might not mind. But who knows.

In an interview, Hans Schroeder, the NFL's vice-president for media strategy and development, said they have inked a similar deal with Verizon south of the border and that he saw how Bell handled the Olympics, which folks at Bell frequently call the tipping point for mobile TV in Canada.

"We've been watching them from afar," Mr. Schroeder said.

Bell, traditionally a laggard in the smart phone game, has lately upped its game in an effort to score advantages over Rogers and Telus with exclusive content deals.

In Quebec, where Videotron is about to launch a wireless network, content may be even more important: Videotron has frequently bragged of being able to access Quebecor's (its parent company) vast cache of French-language content.

"I wouldn't call it a race to sew up exclusive content," said Wade Oosterman, Bell Mobility president. "We constantly look to enhance our value proposition.

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