Mobile ESPN to shut down

Posted by Mark Raby

ESPN today announced that its cell phone service, Mobile ESPN, will suspend its operations effective 31 December, 2006. The service, which was only available to a handful of specific handsets, will be repackaged as a licensed service to Sprint PCS customers.

Mobile ESPN phones and service contracts, effective immediately, will no longer be sold. The provider is allowing current customers to cancel their contract at any time without an early termination fee. At the turn of the year, all active phones will be cut off from service. All current customers will receive a complete refund of their phone.

The exclusive content that was available through service will "soon be available" through "another nationwide wireless provider", according to the information on Mobile ESPN's Web site. Previously, the service tapped into Sprint's high-speed EVDO network to provide streaming video and other content to customers.

The Mobile ESPN service launched in December of 2005 and allowed specific channels to tune into live feeds of sporting events, such as the Super Bowl.

Mobile ESPN is what's known as a "mobile virtual network" (MVNO), a specific service tailored to a specialized market. Despite adding features and retail outlets (including the Sprint store) over the past several months, they obviously couldn't get enough customers to make it worthwhile.