If a football game runs on a wireless network and nobody sees it, did the football game really run at all? If early wireless content deals are any indication, this isn’t a rhetorical question. Take the National Football League’s relationship with Sprint Nextel.
Sprint offers four service tiers on its football package. There’s pay-per-use: Think the Rolling Stones performing live at the Super Bowl and other glitzy events. There’s the NFL application: features such as balloting for the Pro Bowl, live player statistics and clips, and access to the NFL Channel. There’s generic NFL content: ESPN, FoxSports, MobiTV, and others provide highlights and outtakes of NFL games and scores. And then there’s a basic digital package with NFL ring tones, screen savers, and images available on a pay-per-download basis.
Though some content plays across all four tiers, most can’t. And each tier is limited by the spectrum of dozens of handsets already in subscribers’ hands, each with its own quirks and multimedia limits, further cutting into each tier’s deliverables.Sprint declines to say what percentage of its roughly 50 million subscribers receives a given NFL tier. So marketers don’t know who’s getting what. By some estimates, there are more than 2.5 million users in the broadband-enabled group, the richest potential marketing target. But just how many of them are sports fans?