ESPN pulled the plug on its mobile offering yesterday. The service offered an ESPN branded cellphone. This comes as no great surprise.
Among Mobile ESPN’s challenges:
- ESPN is not a telecommunications brand.
- Limited selection of handsets.
- Limited range of price plans; most were higher than comparable plans from the major wireless companies.
- Limited sales channel. They were competing with companies that offer products at kiosks, online, by phone, their own stores, retail, warehouse clubs, etc.
- Many of their best prospects were locked into two year contracts.
- ESPN Mobile operated on the Sprint network, which is not as solid as Verizon’s.
The key selling point of Mobile ESPN? Access to ESPN content over mobile broadband. You could watch sports clips and shows on the 1.5″ cellphone screen. In an HD world, you’ve got to be a real sports junkie to find that a valuable experience.
Mobile ESPN’s demise doesn’t bode well for Disney’s other offering – Disney mobile. Disney mobile has all of the challenges described above and one more: really ugly handsets.
The phones don’t even play up Disney’s brand assets – the mouse ears are nowhere to be seen. If you’re going to design phones for kids, use the characters in your line up. Cell phones are as much about fashion as they are about telecom. I might even be tempted by a Tigger phone.
Wonder how the likes of helio will weather the storm. They have strong financial backers (who are in it for the long term) so it should be interesting to see.