BRISTOL, Conn., & OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Dec. 1, 2004 – ESPN will create the first national U.S. wireless phone service specifically targeted at sports fans using the enhanced Sprint Nationwide PCS Network through an agreement announced today with Sprint (NYSE: FON). The new service, called ESPN Mobile, will launch in 2005.
ESPN Mobile will offer fans unique sports programming and entertainment from ESPN on a mobile phone, delivering not only wireless voice service, but applications such as easy access to sports news, information, commentary, analysis, statistics, ring tones, graphics, photos and logos as well as streaming audio and video made possible by Sprint’s industry-leading wireless high-speed data network. ESPN Mobile will sell ESPN-branded handsets, accessories and applications tailored to its target audience of sports fans.
“Our goal is to extend our leadership and expertise in the two-screen environment, the television and computer, to a third screen that is becoming increasingly important to sports fans – the wireless device,” said George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports. “This enhances our mandate to serve fans anytime, anywhere, and Sprint’s leadership in this medium will help lay the foundation for our success.”
For Sprint, a world-class provider of telecom services, the agreement complements its strong brand image as a leading retail provider and represents its first sports-specific affiliation for nationwide wireless services. Sprint has excelled in capitalizing on its Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) strategy, with a proven track record of partnering with key national brands to expand its unique assets to more users beyond its traditional customer base.
“ESPN Mobile will bring a unique and loyal audience to the wireless table, and we look forward to combining their experience and sports-related content with Sprint’s enhanced nationwide network,” said Len Lauer, president and COO, Sprint. “We believe ESPN’s involvement in wireless will help stimulate even further consumer demand for high-speed data services, capitalizing on the strength of Sprint’s EV-DO strategy.”
Extending the strength of two of the nation’s premier brands, ESPN Mobile builds on Sprint’s current relationship with ESPN that delivers both Web content and the popular downloadable application ESPN BottomLine.
In addition to providing extensive sports content, ESPN Mobile will be responsible for billing, customer relations, pricing, packaging, distribution and other operational aspects of the business.
ESPN Mobile represents yet another approach to extending the reach of the ESPN brand and its content by using wireless technology to serve fans. As a leading provider of wireless sports content across every major domestic carrier, ESPN will continue to work closely with carriers on a variety of fronts, including advertising, content licensing and other business arrangements. ESPN’s current license applications include the popular ESPN BottomLine, and games, such as ESPN Baseball 2004, and the affinity X Games Mobile service launched in November
ESPN Mobile is the division of ESPN Inc. devoted to extending the ESPN brand and content over the wireless medium. ESPN Wireless content and applications can be accessed any time, anywhere via licensing agreements with every major domestic carrier. ESPN’s first wireless offering launched in 1995 with the ESPN To Go pager for scores, and currently includes ESPN BottomLine, Gamecast, score alerts, games, ring tones, wallpaper, trivia and photo galleries. ESPNsoccernet.com and ESPN Deportes provide international content, including ESPN Soccer GameCast and an ESPN Deportes photo gallery.
ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of seven domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU (launching March 2005), ESPN Today), ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD (launching January 2005), ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (networks and syndication), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, SportsTicker, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN Broadband, ESPN Wireless, ESPN Video-on-Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
Sprint is a global integrated communications provider serving more than 26 million customers in over 100 countries. With more than $26 billion in annual revenues in 2003, Sprint is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying state-of-the-art network technologies, including the United States’ first nationwide all-digital, fiber-optic network and an award-winning Tier 1 Internet backbone. Sprint provides local communications services in 39 states and the District of Columbia and operates the largest 100-percent digital, nationwide PCS wireless network in the United States. For more information, visit www.sprint.com.