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ESPN pulls plug on ESPN Mobile

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  • ESPN pulls plug on ESPN Mobile

    ESPN pulls plug on cell operation, seeks to partner with carriers

    By Bruce Meyerson, AP Technology Writer | September 28, 2006

    NEW YORK --ESPN is closing down its cell phone company for sports fans after less than a year, planning instead to forge deals with other wireless operators to offer Mobile ESPN's multimedia content, the majority-owned subsidiary of Walt Disney Co. announced Thursday.

    The Bristol, Conn.-based company will continue providing wireless service and content for its subscribers until the end of the year, refund the purchase price for handsets and assist customers with transferring their phone numbers to other carriers, ESPN executives told The Associated Press.

    Roughly two-thirds of the slightly more 100 employees at Mobile ESPN will likely lose their jobs next year as the company transitions to a licensing business, though some may find other positions at ESPN, the executives said.

    The company has signed up only tens of thousands of subscribers since it launched the service in late 2005 and began advertising early this year, with commercial spots appearing regularly on ESPN's cable TV broadcasts.

    Disney recently disclosed it has so far invested a combined $150 million in developing both Mobile ESPN and Disney Mobile, a cell service designed for families that is unaffected by Thursday's announcement. The company did not disclose Thursday if there would be any charge against earnings to reflect the closure of Mobile ESPN.

    "There's certainly some disappointment," said Salil Mehta, executive vice president for ESPN Enterprises. "I think the focus of the ESPN organization is that we took a risk, but in doing so we have the benefit of having created the industry's leading wireless application, and we're going to figure out a way to bring that to fans and make the most amount of money."

    ESPN's decision marks the retreat of one of the highest-profile and most-heavily marketed efforts to create what's known as an "MVNO," short for mobile virtual network operator.

    An MVNO puts its own brand on a wireless network operator's service, in this case Sprint, paying that company to connect calls and deliver content. Globally, there were already more than 175 MVNO brands either launched or planned as of April of this year, according to the research firm ARCchart.

    Each MVNO attempts to cater to the specialized needs or interests of an audience they contend is underserved by mainstream cellular players such as Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless.

    For Amp'd Mobile and Helio, it's the youth market. Some of the new brands stress lower prices and prepaid offerings for users who can't meet credit requirements. Others focus on immigrant communities, providing cheaper international calls or screen graphics and customer service in another language. Some researchers estimate that a virtual cell brand needs several hundred thousand subscribers to be financially viable, while others put the number in the millions.

    For Mobile ESPN, of course, the target audience was that breed of sports fans who are willing to pay extra to get their favorite team's name on a license plate.

    Mehta said discussions with wireless operators to adapt the Mobile ESPN application for their cell phones have already begun, and that new offerings would likely emerge in less than a year, but that no deals were imminent.
    Superintendent Chalmers: "Thank the Lord"? That sounded like a prayer. A prayer in a public school. God has no place within these walls, just like facts don't have a place within an organized religion."

  • #2
    It was too expensive.

    Plus I think if they partner with say Verizon people will like it more.

    They will get the same plan as they had before and they can pay extra for ESPN Mobile.

    Mile High Manning Fivehead Bandwagon #98


    • #3
      Originally posted by bronc_fan23
      It was too expensive.

      Plus I think if they partner with say Verizon people will like it more.

      They will get the same plan as they had before and they can pay extra for ESPN Mobile.
      i wish!

      i had just gotten my phone right before it was announced it was coming out

      i was bummed


      • #4
        I wish that they would pull the plug on Stephen A. Smith.

        ESPN’s John Clayton reported that McKenzie is expected to review Jackson’s performance for the next week or so. Clayton reports that the odds favor Jackson staying in Oakland, but a decision has not been made. "I still get the feeling Jackson will end up being retained." 3 1/2 HOURS LATER, THE RAIDERS FIRED JACKSON.....GOOD CALL CLAYTON


        • #5
          good thing i have the phone w/my current service CRICKET



          • #6
            Wow, that's REALLY surprising! Good thing my family's with Cingular since I just got my Sony Ericsson Z525a last week.

            And to think I wanted ESPN Mobile! :brick:
            Ultimate Thread Killer!!!

            Sig above made by me!


            • #7
              I think people didn't buy it because of the price. Since ESPN was making this independently, it costed them more than if they would have had a large distributor making it for them. I thought fans were still going to buy it, but at that price it is better to use the internet