The scene veers abruptly from seduction to murder. In one of the shortest, smallest television premieres ever, a woman deftly snaps her lover's neck, then steals his identity to access secret government data.
The miniature version of the TV show "24" lasts just 60 seconds, and it unfolds on a two-inch cell phone screen.
The "mobisode" (short for mobile episode), adapted from the Fox series, makes its debut Tuesday as part of a new push by Verizon Wireless Communications Inc. to sell mobile-phone video service to subscribers for a fee of $15 a month.
Carriers have packed their phones with built-in cameras, calendars, e-mail, video games and Web browsers in recent years to get more money from customers willing to pay for extra features. Cell TV is the latest diversion that wireless carriers are marketing to mobile Americans who want to stay in touch and entertained whether they are waiting in a grocery checkout line or sitting at an airport.
Sprint Corp. was the first to offer video, more than a year ago. Sprint would not say how many mobile TV subscribers it has, but analysts say several hundred thousand subscribers tune into live television or quick newscasts, sports reports and other video clips that are updated throughout the day.
Last week, Cingular Wireless LLC, the nation's largest mobile-phone company, launched its $9.99-a-month MobiTV service, which has 22 channels of television viewable on four models of color-screen, high-speed-Internet handsets.
Subscribers to Sprint and Cingular can watch live television from CNBC, MSNBC, ABC News, and the Learning Channel.
Verizon Wireless, which introduced its video-ready Vcast phone this month, does not yet offer live TV. But business travelers can download frequently updated video roundups of financial or sports news. Teenagers can watch music videos and made-for-mobile extras such as backstage interviews, said John Stratton, the company's chief marketing officer. In addition to the 24 mini-episodes of "24: Conspiracy," News Corp.'s 20th Television has produced two other drama series for the Verizon service.
"This is going to change people's expectations of what they can do with their phone," Stratton said.
Cell TV does not come cheap. A Verizon subscriber with a basic cell phone and a $35 monthly plan would need to buy the $200 Vcast phone, sign a two-year contract and pay $15 a month more for the service that includes unlimited TV and stripped-down Internet access. Verizon Wireless plans eventually to sell premium channels for a higher fee.