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When I woke up this morning and put on the news, Fox was reporting that Mobile ESPN might be closing its doors. Since then I have read a story on PaidContent about the same.
UPDATED AS OF 12PM EST 9/29 – FROM ESPN:
We have decided to change the direction of Mobile ESPN. As of December 31, 2006, Mobile ESPN will cease its wireless service provider operations and work to deliver our content experience through another nationwide carrier. Until that time, you will continue to receive Mobile ESPN's voice and data services, as well as complete billing and customer care support.
The good news is that Mobile ESPN content you have come to enjoy will soon be available through the service of another nationwide wireless provider.
As we do today, Mobile ESPN will continue to support porting requests. And once we receive your final payment in full, we will refund you the price of your Mobile ESPN handset.
I was curious as to how they would handle the handset issue considering that Sprint is not PCS. It looks like they have done the right thing.
Earlier this week, Emmitt Smith showed off a new Sprint NFL service while he was a guest on the Rachael Ray talk show.
So why do MVNO (Mobile virtual network operator) services fail? I think the cost has a lot to do with it. If you compare ESPN Mobile to Sprint using only the plan minutes, Sprint includes 50 additional minutes, free nights and weekends and ESPN charges $25/month for their total sports package. With all of the costs around us, did they really expect people to pay $25 additional a month to watch some video clips on a tiny screen? Yea, it's cute but c'mon – how many times will you watch any play? I think news and scores are important but there are loads of services that can provide this information easily using sms/text messages.
And Disney (parent of ESPN) has launched Disney Mobile. I was actually in talks with them about a job offer about six months ago. The team I spoke with really had a good strategy behind their product and plans. It will be interesting to see if this MVNO will work in the long-run. I question it as well because except for some cute Disney content and a couple of parental locks, it is the same as Mobile ESPN.
I question why there is no kids handset? I would have thought out of the gate they would want a Mickey or Minnie handset and the other characters as well. Instead they have 2 handsets, both are standard handsets. They have a great product with the characters, why not leverage the heck out of them?
What I would like to see is the wireless carriers offering these video and entertainment services. Offer me a plan on my Cingular phone to add ESPN news or Disney content. Offer me Food Network recipes on my phone. But don't make me change carriers to get what I want.
Can anyone say "Mobile Open Source"?
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