ESPN Ends Cellphone Service

Sep 28, 2006  •  Post A Comment

ESPN said Thursday it is discontinuing its Mobile ESPN phone service and shifting to licensing as its mobile strategy.

The service was launched to great fanfare during the Super Bowl on ABC, but added fewer than 30,000 customers, according to a report by Jessica Reif Cohen of Merrill Lynch, who urged the company to shut it down. She estimated the service would lose about $80 million this year.

ESPN Mobile provided scores, video, fantasy sports and other programming on a specially designed cellphone. Operating as a mobile virtual network operator, ESPN Mobile piggybacked on the Sprint PCS Network.

ESPN said it is discontinuing sales of Mobile ESPN phones and service plans immediately. Current customers will continue to receive service until at least the end of the year.

The sports network said it already licenses content to multiple wireless carriers and will look for new deals with existing wireless companies.

“With a refined approach we have a greater opportunity to reach millions of fans while achieving our strategic and financial goals,” said Salil Mehta, executive VP of ESPN Enterprises, in a statement. “ESPN is now able to take advantage of market opportunities that simply didn’t exist with our content before we built the MVNO. We remain committed to serving fans in the wireless arena.”