Disney Wants to Pay Your Cell Phone Bill

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Of all your regular monthly utility bills, your cell phone bill is probably one of the larger ones. That's certainly true for me, since I pay for a family plan with five lines and I use a healthy amount of data. Well, good news for mobile consumers: Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) might be willing to help foot the bill.

Perhaps the most data-hungry activity that people do on their mobile gadgets is watch video content. Watching a handful of episodes of Game of Thrones using your cellular data is bound to run into your data cap rather quickly, and then you start getting hit with overage fees.

Specifically, sports fans may be on the receiving end, as ESPN is reportedly in talks with wireless carriers to subsidize data plans by allowing its mobile content to not be counted toward data limits, so says The Wall Street Journal. That would let users catch the game without worrying about going over, and ESPN would cover the difference.

Disney is the majority owner of ESPN, so most of that cost would fall on Mickey's shoulders. The iconic animator's broader media networks segment, which includes the results from ESPN, comprised 47% of revenue last quarter and 74% of operating income, making it the biggest cash cow.

No wireless carrier was named specifically, but it's fairly easy to narrow down the candidates. The top two carriers, AT&T (NYSE: T  ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) Wireless, are the ones fully embracing data caps and tiered pricing plans. Not only that, but they're also both pushing their pricey shared data plans, which tend to cost more per gigabyte. The WSJ does note that both Ma Bell and Big Red have expressed interest in deals of this nature before.

The smaller two, Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) and T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS  ) , pitch unlimited data plans as a point of differentiation as part of their respective value propositions. T-Mobile still throttles speeds after you hit a certain threshold, but subscribers can pay to raise or eliminate that line in the sand. Sprint, on the other hand, is all-you-can-eat.

Nothing's set in stone yet, but mobile sports viewers may get some good news eventually.

It's easy to forget that Walt Disney is more than just the House of Mouse. True, Disney amusement parks around the world hosted more than 121 million guests in 2011. But from its vast catalog of characters to its monster collection of media networks, much of Disney's allure for investors lies in its diversity, and The Motley Fool's premium research report lays out the case for investing in Disney today. This report includes the key items investors must watch as well as the opportunities and threats the company faces going forward. So don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (5)

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  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2013, at 1:25 PM, babilynz wrote:

    Sprint also throttles their customers, if you are out of area the throttling starts at 200 mb but if you are in your home area it starts at 2 gb. With the advancements of phones like the Note II and the S4 it is very east to hit these limits in less then a week, some busy used less than a day.

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2013, at 1:49 PM, scmobileman wrote:

    @babilynz I'm not sure where you're getting your information but it isn't correct. Sprint does not throttle their connection at all.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2013, at 4:19 AM, Gowithit wrote:

    45 minutes of video watching on an iphone will eat your entire 2GB plan. Think about that for a second. I confirmed it wasn't an error with Verizon, too.

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