ESPN look to subsidize wireless data plans so users can watch mobile video

“Smartphone users who binge on video, games and other content must monitor their usage to ensure they don’t run over monthly data caps that wireless carriers have put in place in recent years,” Amol Sharma, Spencer E. Ante and Anton Troianovski report for The Wall Street Journal.

“Now, some media companies whose mobile content gets a lot of traffic are considering arrangements with wireless carriers that would ensure their users can watch, surf and play as much as they want without being hit with stiff overage charges,” Sharma, Ante and Troianovski report. “ESPN, the cable sports channel majority-owned by Walt Disney Co., DIS +0.99% has had discussions with at least one major U.S. carrier to subsidize wireless connectivity on behalf of its users, according to people familiar with the matter. Under one potential scenario, the company would pay a carrier to guarantee that people viewing ESPN mobile content wouldn’t have that usage counted toward their monthly data caps.”

Sharma, Ante and Troianovski report, “Such a deal would mark a significant development in the wireless business, creating a new model for media and telecom companies to share the costs of bringing bandwidth-guzzling services to consumers. Another way media companies could compensate carriers is by sharing advertising revenue with them.”

Read more in the full article here.


      1. depends how its paid for. at some point data will go the way of minutes and SMS and drop in price.

        Netflix and Apple’s downloads are already hosted by CDN’s inside ISP’s networks. if ESPN can do the same to their content to make it cheaper to deliver then there shouldn’t be any reason why it should use up data.

        i bet in a year or two this will be the norm. companies will pay AT&T and Verizon to host their data in exchange for that data being outside the data plan usage.

        1. This is just an extension of the Kindle Whisper-Net concept, whereby the 3G connectivity to your device is embedded in the cost of the book you just bought. Amazon has tremendous bargaining power with the carriers and gets a bargain rate (plus books aren’t all that big of a data load). The consumer just gets what they paid for without a second tier of costs for delivery.

          I bought a season of NOVA on iTunes, but haven’t been able to download most of the episodes due to crappy WiFi. Each one gobbles about 2GB, which ATT happily sells for $30 as overages to their shared data plans ($15/GB as an overage, $8/GB if I prepay for 5. Who’s your favorite carrier now? ) I’ve been told by friends that the parking lot a Lowe’s has a good fast connection. I probably won’t be buying any more TV shows until something is different.

        2. That still adds to the network’s infrastructure requirements, though… and ESPN will have to pay for the privilege. ESPN benefits because more people chose them to watch… they get their revenue through serving ads to you in their video content… or an online subscription model and putting some content behind a paywall.

          ESPN can’t realistically ask you to subscribe to a sports plan while it sucks up your data plan.

          It means those that watch ESPN pay extra for the data consumption through use. Ultimately, AT&T benefit by a subsidy or if ESPN’s smart, they will sign exclusivity agreements where they don’t have to subsidize the data usage but only have a deal with one carrier. This will attract sports junkies to AT&T and AT&T users will be apt to choose ESPN over another sports network.

  1. Was involved with a focus group about a year ago about this. It’s like toll-free for data. As long as you are shopping on Amazon or watching the Iron Man 3 trailer you saw on the bus bench ad, the data used wont count against your bill.

  2. Personally I wish ESPN would go away. What I have seen if it was very disturbing, sensationalistic, over dramatised (IN A WORLD!…)
    Thank god for Eurosport which isn’t just sport from Europe by the way. But as we know sports channels like ESPN are the biggest cost of a monthly cable bill. People should be allowed to remove that if they don’t watch it.

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