(1) Mobile ESPN’s launch into the wireless market was definitely the innovative, out-of-the-box idea that the marketing executives at ESPN are known for, and the principle behind it—one more way in which to deliver up-to-the-minute sports information to sports fans anywhere, anytime—was very much on the right track. I think what Mobile ESPN suffered from the most was the fact that it was basically nothing more than a shadow service provider.
Without having a wireless infrastructure of its own, Mobile ESPN found itself dependent on Sprint for all of the technological and logistical implementation of the product. Whatever may or may not have been going on within Sprint internally, for Mobile ESPN to launch without any real autonomy of its own, completely dependent on its host carrier, and with no real knowledge or experience in the wireless world, Mobile ESPN was a good idea at a good time that was perhaps not thought through entirely. Also, there is a lot to be said of consumers’ reluctance to switch wireless carriers due to high penalties, and many phones have Internet access which allow people to have access to ESPN’s website for that same up-to-the-minute information, making it unnecessary for them to have the special phone.
(2) When Mobile ESPN was launched, in order to attract a greater number of users it would have been helpful if they had offered a great deal of incentives for switching over to the Sprint service, host of Mobile ESPN.
Perhaps they could have partnered up with Sprint and offered some sort of contract buy-out option, where they would pay for the pre-existing contract termination of new subscribers (at the cost of a 2-year agreement with Sprint and an astronomical cancellation penalty, to ensure that there would not be a great deal of money lost). This is probably one of the biggest reasons why there wasn’t an initial mass attraction to the product because of the stringent rules of wireless carriers, and so to offer some incentive to attract these people and make it worth their time and money to make that switch would be beneficial.
ESPN right now just needs to focus on its various television, print, and Internet presence for people to access its branded content, and really spend a great deal of time formulating a well-thought-out strategy to re-launch Mobile ESPN, something that not only appeals to the customers who want all sports all the time but who also want a great deal with wireless service.
(3) I don’t believe Mobile ESPN affected the image or brand of ESPN in either direction. Presumably the 50,000 subscribers to Mobile ESPN were upset at the decision to cancel the program, but out of the millions of ESPN viewers that number is largely insignificant. Mobile ESPN was simply an example of a company breeching into territory it wasn’t yet quite ready to break into—something which happens all the time, not all creative ideas are successful. Because the presence of Mobile ESPN was so small, the repercussions of its failure simply could not be on a large scale.
(4) Honestly, I still believe Mobile ESPN was a great idea, just perhaps at the wrong time or poorly planned and executed. If I worked with one of ESPN’s competitors, I would have viewed Mobile ESPN as a highly unique, creative, out-of-the-box idea that would be a threat to my own company, and demand from my Marketing team that they provide me with ideas as cutting-edge as that. Despite its failure, Mobile ESPN is still a great example of how ESPN constantly strives to be on top, the best of the best, offering the most content with the most accessibility. Mobile ESPN further demonstrated that, and as a competitor I would want to do something that would allow me to reach the same audience base.
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