May 15, 2007 9:01 PM PDT

Verizon Wireless launches ESPN application

Verizon Wireless on Wednesday announced that ESPN's revamped mobile-sports application is available on its V Cast service.

Subscribers of Verizon's V Cast V Pak, which provides unlimited data usage for $15 a month, can now access the new service, called ESPN MVP, at no additional charge. Users simply download the application from Verizon's Get It Now service. The application is not available to subscribers of the $3-a-day V Cast pass.

ESPN MVP, which is exclusive to Verizon, will allow sports fans to get news, scores, video highlights, alerts for scoring updates, and other sports-related content. The application also will offer several exclusive features, including fantasy team management that will allow subscribers to update players and teams and make changes to fantasy team rosters from their cell phones. It will also include select ESPN Insider and ESPN BottomLine content.

The ESPN MVP application was created from an application that ESPN used when it was a mobile virtual-network operator delivering a service called Mobile ESPN. The service, launched in February 2006 during the Super Bowl, was only offered for about eight months before ESPN pulled the plug.

Mobile ESPN never published subscriber numbers, but some observers speculate that the venture never gained more than 30,000 subscribers, well below original estimates of 240,000 subscribers. While fans were impressed with the multimedia application, not enough people were sufficiently dazzled to switch their cell phone plans and sign up for the service. Some criticized Mobile ESPN for its lack of "cool" and sophisticated handsets.

ESPN already licenses content to other mobile operators, such as Sprint Nextel, which offers some of its sports content on its phones. ESPN also maintains a Wireless Application Protocol, or WAP, site that anyone with a mobile browser and connection to a wireless data network can access. When Mobile ESPN was disbanded last year, executives said they still believed in the mobile platform. And they said they would partner with a carrier to deliver the application.

"We're very focused on building a brand and providing content across all platforms," said Oke Okaro, senior director of mobile and interactive TV at ESPN. "Mobile and sports go hand in hand. We are extremely thrilled to be bringing an enhanced version of our application to Verizon's V Cast subscribers."

The ESPN MVP application will initially be available on the LG Chocolate, the LG VX8300, LG VX8600, the Motorola Razr V3c and V3m and MotoKrzr K1m. Verizon said it will offer ESPN MVP on additional phones later this year.

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