Looks like the world’s least popular MVNO is headed for some big changes. While there won’t be a massive layoff and shuttering, ESPN mobile will probably be sold or wound down and phased out. Experts expect it to sell in the $300-$400 million range – not to shabby for a MVNO with four subscribers, three of whom are the CEOs parents.
MVNOs are a tough nut to crack because they’re inherently niche businesses. The idea for ESPN was clear – give sports fans sports. However, sports fans can get sports from the bar TV or via their wimpy phone browser and don’t specifically need highlights and video. It definitely feels too early for these sorts of carriers to really hit the big time and becoming a mobile carrier is expensive and has a massive burn rate. Just ask Helio, Amp’d, and Boost who, by most estimates are doing fairly well in a market where “fairly well” equates to 1000-5000 subscribers.