Celestial kicking it on Thai mobile


BANGKOK, Thailand -- Users of Thailand's leading mobile phone service provider will soon be the first in the world able to watch snippets of martial arts action from the archives of Hong Kong-based Celestial Pictures.

Celestial said Thursday that "Kung Fu TV" will be streamed directly to the portable handsets of Advanced Info Service customers who subscribe to the offerings.

Made specifically for the mobile platform, "Kung Fu TV" will offer 30 minutes of programming each week featuring footage from the Celestial-controlled Shaw Brothers Film Library, which boasts 760 films produced from the 1950s through the 1990s.

Video clips from such movies as "King Boxer," "My Young Auntie," and "The Flying Guillotine" are among the titles excerpted. Subscribers will be able to access fight sequences, music videos, action movie trailers, animated wallpapers and video ringtones. Each will range from 30 seconds to three minutes in length.

"We are very excited to be launching our latest mobile initiative to expand the world's largest Chinese film collection to the mobile platform to reach new audiences," Celestial CEO William Pfeiffer said in a statement.

The service will reach a potential audience of more than 900,000 users, though no subscriber figures are yet available.

The Kung Fu TV service will cost about 50 cents per month and is rolling out alongside another service tapping an even broader archive of films (the Chinese Movie Channel) that costs around 65 cents. Celestial will receive an undisclosed percentage of the monthly fee.

Celestial also has plans to roll out the channels in Malaysia and in other territories around the world.

Jessica Kam, Celestial's sales and marketing vp, said that, since AIS already had the technology in place and expressed an interest in the service, it was an easy place to start.

"Thailand has been a great market for us over the past few years and Thai people love kung fu and watching fights, so when AIS approached us, we thought is would be a perfect fit," Kam said.

AIS has offered mobile TV viewing since 2003 with its U.K.-based partner ROK TV and now offers 22 channels through its "ROK TV on Mobile" service on its EDGE/GPRS network. These channels offer content relating to news, sports, fashion, health, beauty and entertainment, along with the latest Thai and foreign music videos.

"AIS customers can rest assured that they can view TV programs on mobile phones at full quality thanks to excellent grades of visual and audio files delivering clear and smooth outputs at all times," said Somchai Lertsuttiwong, AIS executive vp marketing.