Blog Post

Disney Q2: ESPN To Stay On Mobile, MVNO Not Guaranteed; $150M Investment

[by James Pearce] In Disney’s Q2 earnings call, bunch of stuff about the status of MVNOs form Disney, both MobileESPN and newly launched Disney Mobile:
Concerning Mobile ESPN, Bob Iger said: “Earlier this year, we launched Mobile ESPN, and while we are pleased with the quality and utility of this mobile content service, sales have been slower to develop than we had hoped. As a result, we made some broad changes in our marketing, selling and handset strategy to better position Mobile ESPN among targeted consumer groups. We think there is a great opportunity to extend ESPN-branded content to mobile platforms as a way of connecting with our consumers whenever and wherever they are.” In response to a question on the MVNO Iger replied: “We launched this, it’s only about six months old. There are issues that we had to deal with in terms of our retail strategy, our overall marketing approach, our pricing approach, as well as the quality of the handset.” Which covers everything except the content, lending credence to skeptics who claimed that big media companies don’t know anything about running telecommunication services. Iger is committed to ESPN being on the mobile platform, but not quite as committed to the idea of an ESPN MVNO…”Our investment in ’06 was approximately $150 million. We’re not going to get specific at all about ’07. What we know is that ESPN works on the platform in that the product itself and the experience for the consumer is quite positive. So ESPN’s presence in mobile platforms is a given into the future…Under what circumstance or in what model, it’s really too soon to tell. We’re going to continue to evaluate this very carefully. I’m not going to get specific in terms of the timing of a decision or what factors we have to see, but I will say again that the results, at least initially, even though it’s only been six months, were disappointing and we’re monitoring this carefully.”
He was a lot more upbeat on the Disney MVNO, possibly because there’s been less time for problems to become known.
“We are just launching Disney Mobile, the first comprehensive domestic mobile phone service specifically designed for families. The initial product reviews have been extremely positive for our unique product, including being named Editor’s Choice by PC Magazine. With the opportunity we have identified in the family segment of the market, we’re optimistic that our national marketing, advertising and retail plans that begin this month will drive great interest among parents, tweens and young teens in our service,” said Iger in the conference call. There were no questions on Disney Mobile this time, but I expect there will be in the next conference call.