ESPN's phone could be overkill in the tech age, as way too many boy toys vie for room in your pocket. Will consumers need a separate device for each network? Surely MTV could make a case for its own personal cell phone, with its obvious connection to music and the iPod world it connects to.
But what about NBC, Hallmark, the WB, and Comedy Central? Perhaps not. TV research has told us over and over again that we regularly tune in to only five to seven channels out of the hundreds that are available. Surely, consumers will figure out that buying a sports-focused cell phone could be limiting to their world.
ESPN is different, we've told. The immersive phone experience is supposed to cater to a small segment of the cell phone customer base--those fanatics that need scores and information constantly. Sports content doesn't mean viewing an entire three-hour game. It means watching in short minute or two long segments. Good for the bookies, I'm sure.
ESPN would say it's a legit option, considering its powerful worldwide brand connects some 90 millions people each day through its existing TV shows, Internet sites, sports locations, and other "touch points."
The price tag for the phone is serious--$399 after a $100 rebate, and monthly service costs from $64.99 to $224.99. In the future, portable devices may mean only one thing for loyal network-specific customers: surgery. Keith Olbermann, a former anchor of "SportsCenter" who is now the host of MSNBC's weeknight "Countdown" show, told the Times: "What's next, implants?"
Must be. ESPN says sports is in our DNA.