ESPN Rings In 2005

Sport fans stay connected via phones
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Manish Jha, ESPN Mobile senior vice president, is a busy man. Next year, the company will roll out ESPN Mobile, branded phones offering in-depth sports information along with video and audio content. Jha spoke with B&C's Ken Kerschbaumer about the project.


Why is ESPN pushing its branded products so hard?

Wherever the fans are and whatever technological means they use to connect to sports, we want to be a conduit. Wireless technologies are more than just voice. We think we have a tremendous opportunity here, hence the creation of ESPN Mobile.


Are mobile applications something all content owners or distributors should consider?

It's another way to connect with your audience. The value of mobility is pretty significant: the ability to access content you care about when you're not near a TV or PC. That's something people are willing to pay for. So if you have something where timely access is valuable, you should take a look at it.


When ESPN Mobile owners turn on their cellphones next year, what will they get?

They'll be able to see basic information on the front screen. We're still working through the level of personalization we'll be able to provide. If they care about particular players, teams or sports, that information will be easier to get. One of the things we're going to try to do, which hasn't been done very well in the marketplace, is hide the complexity of the technology from the fan. Asking people to launch a browser if they want to see certain types of information on the phone or asking them to go to a messaging gateway to send or receive messages is not the optimal fan experience. We want to create a sports experience and let the different protocols work behind the scenes.

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