May 10, 2013
Faster 4G/LTE networks have made consuming video on an iOS device a much more enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, it is also much more expensive than in years past as most carriers have said goodbye to unlimited data plans. Now ESPN is testing a plan that could mean the end of checking data limits, for sports fans anyway, according to The Wall Street Journal. ESPN, which is majority-owned by Walt Disney Co., is said to be in talks with at least one U.S. carrier to subsidize wireless connectivity on behalf of their users. Under the scenario, the cable company would pay a carrier to guarantee that people viewing ESPN mobile content wouldn’t have that usage counted toward their monthly data caps. If such a move is actually brought to market, it could represent a significant shift in the mobile industry as a whole. Imagine, for example, Netflix doing the same thing for their mobile customers, or one of the other cable networks. There is no word on which carrier ESPN is talking to. However, most believe it is either AT&T, or Verizon Wireless. Both companies have said that they are always exploring new opportunities for customers. As Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead confirmed:
We are actively exploring those opportunities and looking at every way to bring value to our customers.This is one story that we'll continue to follow. I would suggest that were ESPN to implement such a plan, it would probably happen before the fall when the NFL and college football seasons begin. That is also when ESPN will face Fox's new national sports network, Fox Sports 1. See also: ABC Could Become The First US Network To Offer Live Video Streaming On iOS.