Has the time come for the distribution of content over mobile devices? I know I have often had my doubts as to whether the average consumer will want video content on their cell phone, but sometimes an offering makes a whole lot of sense. I have to admit, the deal that Disney's
According to news reports yesterday, ESPN will provide sports scores, audio and video clips, and sports-related headlines to subscribers equipped with the phones. The Sanyo handset will have a high-resolution screen and the ability to deliver the media at high speeds. According to CNET, the phone will also include all the hot features consumers might want -- a digital camera, an MP3 player, and video and voice recording.
I tend to have a rather girly perception of sports (in other words, I don't care about them), but I've got enough male friends (and, granted, a few female ones) who hate missing sports events because of other obligations. (What other obligations, you might ask? I've seen men wired up for sports radio at more than one wedding -- not any grooms, though, thank goodness.)
A recent Wired magazine article discussed ESPN's big media plans. Getting the rights to Monday Night Football -- a longtime staple of ABC -- is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ESPN's plans to provide compelling sports coverage across many different mediums, with an eye toward real time. It's all part of its strategy to draw its much-coveted male audience in many different ways. Indeed, Wired reported that the company plans to integrate some ESPN content into Electronic Arts'
Meanwhile, as much as I have often had my doubts as to whether widespread digital content will be in great demand on mobile phones and other mobile media players, it seems quite possible that certain niches, like sports, could very well prove to be greatly lucrative for companies like ESPN and Sprint.
Indeed, despite my own doubts, some Fools pointed to the recent Disney plan to provide kids' content on mobiles as a good idea. As much as I might have dismissed that concept out of hand, here's a statistic to chew on: 40% of kids ages 12 to 14 have cell phones.
The companies that make and distribute mobile phones hope and pray that consumers will take to such content on the tiny screens of their phones. Making the strategy work probably does depend on just what content is provided, and Sprint and Sanyo's collaboration with ESPN seems like a strategically savvy move.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.