The Problem With SNL's Cingular Deal

NBC Universal has signed a deal with Cingular to allow their upgraded video customers to access clips, new content and archived material from Saturday Night Live. NBC recently launched a section for SNL on its web site. It seems like a good deal for Cingular, one of the largest mobile phone utilities and NBC Universal. But wait. Is it? In their race to be content conduits, utilities such as cell phone companies are beginning to scare me. They think exclusive deals for content will be a win-win and enhance their ability to get customers to upgrade phone service. The problem is that in the long run if SNL content is only available on Cingular, it may be good for them and may help NBC (which also runs its own site), but it is contrary to what many of us believe the mobile future will eventually look like. Consumers will demand access to all content available on the Internet. The next generation wants choice. That's big with them. When a consumer signs with Verizon and only gets Verizon content that plan would have worked before universal access to the Internet. Otherwise, it is an irritation. Think of the satellite radio business. If you buy a certain car because you like it, you're generally stuck with the (company installed option) satellite service even if it isn't the one you want. When will the content providers and delivery systems of the future understand that choice not chance is what consumers will demand and eventually get?