"ESPN, a unit of Walt Disney Co., plans to pull the plug on its sports-themed mobile-telephone venture later this year but hopes to expand its wireless presence by licensing its Mobile ESPN application to other providers.
The New York sports-entertainment company confirmed Thursday that it will immediately suspend sales of new handsets for the Mobile ESPN service it launched less than a year ago. The company has developed cellphones that feature a variety of sports-centric content and features. But it has struggled to build a customer base in a fiercely competitive cellular industry with much bigger players.
Mobile ESPN operates through an agreement with Sprint Nextel Corp., paying for wholesale access to the carrier's network and then reselling service to its own subscribers."
What's ESPN planning for next steps? They plan two courses of action:
"ESPN said it will continue licensing sports-related content to other wireless providers. The company also said it is currently in discussions with other carriers about licensing its Mobile ESPN application."
One can see the first course of action as having some merit. The second one though seems a tad optimistic.
The Journal article offers this overall judgment of the venture:
"Even as it addressed initial launch problems, the company couldn't address a fundamental flaw in its model -- that consumers didn't want to buy an ESPN-branded cellphone to get access to ESPN content."
Ain't hindsight grand?