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February 09, 2007

ESPN Mobile Re-launches on V Cast

By Erik Linask, Associate Editor,
Internet Telephony magazine

Bristol, Connecticut-based sports conglomerate ESPN, which just a few months ago killed off its MVNO experiment due to a lack of subscribers, has finally found a host for its Mobile ESPN application. Former Mobile ESPN subscribers — at least those that have not signed two-year deals with other carriers — will soon be able to enjoy ESPN’s application through Verizon Wireless. The two companies announced an exclusive multi-year licensing agreement for the user-friendly and feature-rich ESPN application to be made available as part of Verizon’s (News - Alert) $15/month V Cast service.

Mobile ESPN brings subscribers real-time sports scores and news and can be personalized for favorite teams and players. Users can set up scoring alerts for individual games or teams — a favorite option for fantasy sports players so they can easily keep tabs on their players — and can access box scores, video highlights, special ESPN Insider content and fantasy sports. In addition, the service will also bring to Verizon Wireless customers on demand video, including content from ESPN’s varied programming — like SportsCenter, Cold Pizza, PTI, Rome is Burning, and more.
When ESPN announced in late 2006 that it would cease offering its mobile service at the end of the year, it also promised its 30,000 or so subscribers they would soon be able to receive the same content through other carriers as ESPN embarked on its new licensing model. Unfortunately, however, ESPN was unable to reach an agreement with Verizon in time to announce it before ceasing its own operations, leaving subscribers in the dark as to which carrier might soon be licensing the ESPN application. 
Therefore, while the ESPN Mobile application is, without question, well designed and easy to use, and while ESPN has the ability to offer more sports-related content than any other organization, it remains to be seen how popular the platform will become with V Cast subscribers. Clearly, Verizon is betting a number of its some 20 million users with V Cast-capable phones — which is approximately one-third of its current subscriber base — will use the service. It is likely also hoping that those former ESPN customers that have signed contracts with other carriers will have forgiven ESPN by the time those contracts expire and will choose to switch to Verizon at that time.
Mike Lanman, vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless, said, “We will offer our customers access to the best in sports, across our mobile platforms.  This is truly about providing customers with sports news and entertainment in the way they want it — whether they want text alerts on changing game scores and sports news or want to be immersed in a complete multimedia experience with V CAST.”
Erik Linask is Associate Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY, IMS Magazine, and SIP Magazine. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert), he was Managing Editor at Global Custodian, an international securities services publication. To see more of his articles, please visit Erik Linask’s columnist page.


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