Sprint Nextel Aims To Stay in Concert With Technology

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By Arshad Mohammed
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Coming soon to a very small screen near you -- Bon Jovi live in concert.

Sprint Nextel Corp. yesterday said it will broadcast video of Bon Jovi's Dec. 17 MCI Center concert free of charge to its mobile phone customers who have video/data service.

For the Reston-based company, the concert is a way to try to generate interest in the television programming -- including sports, news, weather and entertainment -- it offers on its mobile phones.

For Bon Jovi, the New Jersey rock band whose first big hit was the 1986 song "Livin' on a Prayer," it's extra exposure during the Christmas shopping season.

And for Sprint Nextel customers, it is a way to watch a full-length concert anywhere they have a wireless connection.

The unanswered question is whether rock fans will want to experience a performance through earphones and the smallest of screens.

"It's not a very compelling way to watch a concert, but then again it's impressive in what technology can deliver," said Ray Waddell, a Billboard magazine senior editor who covers touring. "I don't think it's ever going to replace the concertgoing experience."

Sprint Nextel spokeswoman Angela Read said this will be the first time a mobile phone company has done a full-length video broadcast of a rock concert in the United States. Parts of this summer's Live 8 African relief concerts were broadcast by several carriers.

The company declined to say what it is paying Bon Jovi for the rights to the broadcast but noted that it is sponsoring the band's "Have a Nice Day" U.S. tour.

Read said Sprint Nextel customers must have a Sprint Vision or Power Vision data contract -- which start at $15 per month beyond regular voice service -- to watch the concert. Otherwise, they will pay heavy usage charges.

Regular customers who do not have phones with video will not be able to listen to the concert.

Paul Korzilius, the band's manager, said people would see a magnified image on their phones and hear an audio feed specially mixed for earphones.

Asked if Bon Jovi fans would really want to experience the band this way, he said: "If you're standing outside the building and you can't get in, it's not as good as being in, and if you can't be in, can you be on the phone? . . . It's another way to consume the band."

The performance starts at 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the MCI Center. As of yesterday, tickets were available via Ticketmaster but for only scattered single seats or seats with a limited view.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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