Sports-focused content network ESPN wants to ensure users keep watching its content on their mobile devices, and to achieve that, itplans to work around data plan caps. According to The Wall Street Journal, ESPN is having discussions with at least one major US carrier to subsidise wireless connectivity to ESPN.
This would allow viewers to access as much ESPN video on their smartphone, without taking a hit on their precious data cap for which they pay monthly. ESPN is reportedly willing to pay a carrier to not count ESPN content towards their data cap.
A specific carrier was not named in the WSJ report, though AT&T or Verizon Wireless seem most likely. Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead has said in the past that it wants to pursue a deal similar deal to what ESPN is proposing. The carrier would be reaping the money from the content provider, while the content provider would be getting advertising revenue from non-stop access from its viewers.
It's not clear when a deal might be struck, if ever, as the publication mentions that ESPN isn't sure "if the economics will work out". Such a deal may be in its favour though, as the Watch ESPN app was downloaded 20 million times as of mid-April.
ESPN is no stranger to embracing the web. Along with its slew of mobile apps available across platforms, it offers a service dubbed "ESPN3" that both live streams and replays global sports events to viewers and fans in North America, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Middle East, New Zealand and Europe. Viewers can watch ESPN3 if its services are bundled in with local Internet service providers.
Maybe something similar can be struck with wireless connectivity.