Athens, GA (Jan 7, 2008) - In October 2006, Bob Schukai, vice president of wireless and broadband technologies for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., (TBS, Inc.) made a brown bag presentation at the University of Georgia's New Media Institute on how Turner was looking to grow and leverage mobile technology.
After the audience was finished laughing about the 10+ different mobile devices he carries with him every day, he talked about how ESPN was very quietly dropping their brand cell phone experiment after much fanfare and advertising surrounding its debut.The basic problem is that people were not buying into the concept largely because the phone plan had very limited minutes and the cost was just too expensive for most people were willing to pay.
ESPN's work with mobile technology and the provision of information through this medium did not end though, and it is becoming clear that they are doing something right. In an article in today's online edition of Advertising Age magazine, Alice Z. Cuneo reports that on three occasions this past fall, more users accessed ESPN-provided content via mobile devices than they did through a web browser.
The biggest upset of this football season may have been Appalachian State University's victory over Michigan. But for the mobile-marketing industry, it came the day ESPN had more visits to the NFL content on its mobile-phone website than it did to the same area on its PC website.
"We're having extraordinary growth on ESPN.com's NFL pages, but we're also seeing extraordinary usage with mobile devices as well," said Ed Erhardt, president-ESPN ABC Sports customer marketing and sales, calling mobile "a big part of the future as it relates to how fans are going to consume sports."
ESPN, as seen in the picture, did not stop working on Mobile Data Services when it dropped its Sprint PCS branded services.
PhotographCopyright 2007 by ESPN. All Rights reserved. used with permission
If this growth is, as Advertising Age suggests in its article, a bellwether for the future, then the other networks have a lot of catching up to do. The percentage of mobile users accessing sports content, as measured by M:Metrics and cited in the article, breaks down as follows:
What is not clear in the article is if this breakdown is for all sports or for just NFL Information. As such, it makes the numbers a little harder to really compare.
Ed Erhardt, pictured at right, is President of ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales
Photogragh Copyright 2007 by Rich Arden/ESPN. All Rights reserved. used with permission
The number that is not hard to compare is what Erhardt also is quoted as saying in the article:
"We're seeing better than 200% growth year over year for our mobile usage," he said, although it's off a lower base. By comparison, ESPN.com's NFL content is up an average of 36% year over year, with 47.3 million page views, or 41% of all traffic, coming in the 24 hours beginning Mondays at noon.
So it is clear that the growth and demand is there, and if the other networks do not start catching up before ESPN can launch its new ScoreCenter site, they might never be able to catch up and ESPN will grow its foothold over sports information delivery.
Advertising Age: More Football Fans Hit ESPN's Mobile Site Than Its PC Pages