Home As Online Video Continues to Boom, Fox Goes Mobile with Bitbop

As Online Video Continues to Boom, Fox Goes Mobile with Bitbop

Numbers released from comScore today show that U.S. Internet users watched nearly 34 billion videos online in the month of May, up from just over 30 billion in April. Hulu served up nearly 1.2 billion videos last month, nearly 3.5% of the overall market, while Google remained supreme, accounting for 43% of the market – a whopping 14.6 billion videos – with its powerhouse property, YouTube. Still, Hulu, a place where many watch full episodes of network television, is slowly inching from the pack, and Fox Interactive Media, sitting near the bottom of comScore’s rankings, wants a piece of the action. They’re target? Mobile.

Back in January, Hulu managed just over 900 million videos, 2.8% of the overall market and nearly twice as much as the next highest ranked provider, Microsoft. Since then, they’ve grown slightly to 3.5%, fending off the other providers and cementing their position as a leading online video provider. Hulu’s 43.5 million unique visitors in May watched an average of 27 videos each, which is more than a quarter of the number watched by YouTube visitors.

Fox Launches Mobile Hulu-esque Subscription Service

Fox Interactive Media, which ranks 9th on comScore’s top 10 based on total videos served, announced today that it is taking a stab at mobile video subscription service with what it calls Bitbop. Is it an iPhone app? No. An Android app? No. A mobile website? No. It’s an application for the BlackBerry.

BitBop, available on the BlackBerry Bold, Curve and Tour models, is a free application that allows users to watch many of the same TV shows and movies they know from Hulu directly on their phones. While the app is free to download, it comes with a subscription fee – $9.99 a month – to access content. Family Guy, The Office, 30 Rock, Glee, CSI, Friday Night Lights – all the major players are present and accounted for.

If you’re asking yourself why the service is only available on the Blackberry – and why wouldn’t you – it’s because Fox has inked an exclusive deal with BlackBerry makers RIM (Research In Motion). It’s a curious partnership, since the majority of BlackBerry owners use their devices mainly for work and enterprise functionality – not exactly the kind of people who are more like to watch online video on their mobile device, if you asked me.

Still, it will be interesting to see how it plays out and if Fox can boost their low video market share numbers. There is certainly a market for on-demand mobile video – the success of Netflix’s iPad app and the anticipation of its iPhone app can speak to that thread. Whether that market is on BlackBerry devices is yet to be seen, but this partnership could bode well for both parties.

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