Manish Jha On The New Mobile ESPN

Manish Jha, Mobile ESPN SVP and GM, has given an interview on the closure of the ESPN MVNO, and said a lot of things that other people have been saying for a while, and which some people brought up when the MVNO was announced. For example: “Customers in the cellular marketplace, by and large, are making decisions based on handset prices or form factor. Content is just not a driver of the wireless service purchase for a significant portion of the population: it’s in the single digits”, and “by working through multiple carriers, and not asking fans to switch cellular phone providers, we can serve more fans”. I think ESPN’s brand is so strong that it thought people would change their behaviour in relation to the company… a mistake.
Despite the multi-carrier comment, ESPN would consider working exclusively with one carrier if it was “the right strategic relationship”, and expects deals to occur in “weeks or months, not years”. Which is hardly surprising since it’s what the company was doing before it started on the MVNO path. It’s also looking at broadcast mobile TV.
An article in Streaming Media claims that Mobile ESPN “achieved only slightly more than 10% of its 240,000-subscriber goal“. Later it writes: “Some industry analysts are skeptical that limited subscriber numbers were the cause of ESPN’s shift. In another recent interview , Yankee group senior mobile analyst Marina Amoros noted that the service had only been on the market since February, too short a time to accurately assess market conditions. Amoros instead indicated that it was probably a corporate decision made some months ago…”[Mobile ESPN] was only in the marketplace for seven months,” says Amoros. “And this decision probably happened a couple of months ago. No one would give a service like this only three months to prove itself.” You could also say that no-one would commit so much money to an endeavour and then change their mind just after it launched… (although is $150 million a lot of money to Disney? It’s a big company, and Amp’d spent more than that). Mobile ESPN also expects to cut about two-thirds of the 100 jobs that it currently has.
Related stories:
Industry Moves: MobileESPN VP Lands At Soapbox Mobile As CEO
Disney Will Spend $30 Million To Shut Down Mobile ESPN
Interview: Steve Wadsworth, President, Walt Disney Interactive: Disney MVNO Post ESPN


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