New ESPN Service Ups Wireless Ante


Bristol, Conn.— ESPN is getting into the wireless phone business, in partnership with Sprint Corp.

ESPN Mobile, set to launch next year, is a branded wireless subscription-phone service that includes sports news, information, commentary, analysis, stats, ring tones, graphics, photos and streaming audio and video.

Sprint is selling the sports programmer wholesale minutes, which ESPN Mobile will package for consumers. ESPN will handle billing, pricing, packaging, distribution and customer service. The total-sports network already offers some content to wireless subscribers, including scores and information. The Sprint deal takes ESPN’s wireless participation to a new level.

Sprint’s higher bandwidth EV-DO technology will allow users to view streaming video via their cell phones. When it launches next year, segments from Pardon the Interruption could be available on the service, along with some game highlights, ESPN executive vice president of ad sales and new media John Skipper said. How much video ESPN can offer will depend on its rights contracts with suppliers and cable operators, Skipper said.