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ESPN announces mobile ticketing service, partners with StubHub

June 9, 2010

John Zehr is senior vice president and general manager at ESPN Mobile

John Zehr is senior vice president and general manager at ESPN Mobile

New York – During a keynote at the Mobile Marketing Forum, ESPN announced a mobile ticketing service, as well as other content that will engage users and further advance the company’s position in the mobile space.

Mobile data is expanding with about 60 million mobile Web users, 156 million text messaging users and 10 million video subscribers. ESPN believes that it is important to understand what content people are consuming and has taken that into consideration when it developed several applications for users.

“It’s a really exciting time to be involved in mobile today,” said John Zehr, senior vice president and general manager at ESPN Mobile, New York. “It’s about personalized content targeting and understanding what content people are consuming.

“Mobile makes the experience better, so does personalization, and getting in on the mobile homescreen is something that’s innate to people and drives them to content consumption,” he said. “People are sitting at live events and checking their mobile devices.

“On most NFL Sundays, people check the scores on their phones and this exceeds the traffic that we get on the PC Web.”

According to ESPN, the growth of mobile usage is continually on the rise and it is because of the new devices that are coming out – giving consumers more options when they are on the go.

“It’s not just the iPhone – Sprint and Android devices are pushing the market forward,” Mr. Zehr said.

Get your sports tickets here
ESPN has teamed up with StubHub to introduce a mobile ticketing service, letting fans buy sporting event tickets via their handsets.
Consumers who use ESPN Mobile can launch the mobile ticket center within the company’s mobile site.

Sport fans can purchase tickets to events, see the seats and venues and see team schedules.

Multiple links across ESPN’s mobile properties will direct fans to the StubHub Ticket Center where they can buy tickets.

Consumers will be directed to StubHub’s mobile checkout to complete their transaction, where they can either use their stored StubHub account, or can enter their PayPal or Credit Card account information.

When planning the service, Mr. Zehr said that it was important to keep people inside the application and not drive them out of that experience.

Additionally, ESPN believes that it will see a surge in search traffic during the World Cup. The company is incorporating the value of live events into its mobile projects.

Users will be able to watch the event on their handsets, as well as get mobile alerts.

In addition, users can text the keyword WC to the short code 43776 to ESPN to find out how to get engaged in the content.

“Fans are going to be able to be connected in a way that when the last World Cup, they were not,” Mr. Zehr said. “Mobile is pretty critical in engaging the consumer in the content creation process.

“Users check scores and they’re really connected to their phone,” he said. “It’s really about tying into the content and the context that people are engaged with.”

Mobile beats PC
Mr. Zehr believes that mobile plays a crucial part in a user’s everyday life and they are not going to be returning to their PCs.

Users have used PCs because it was a working productivity tool and it has backed into an entertainment media, per Mr. Zehr.

In the last few years, there has been an array of devices that are geared for media consumption and touch screens, especially, are making that happen.

Consumers are selecting the best available screen so that they can consume TV and Internet usage while they are on the go.

“Screen power that’s available on these devices is unprecedented,” Mr. Zehr said. “It’s very exciting; you can’t even walk into a carrier store and buy a bad phone.

“We’re quickly starting to think about mobile as being the first screen,” he said. “It’s the first screen you see in the morning and the last screen you see when you go to bed.

“People are using them in ways that make them extremely personal to themselves.”

Real time sports
In addition to ESPN’s mobile ticketing application, the company is also rolling out an iScore application that gives users the ability to document the events that they attend.

The application is available on Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and lets users who are part of any baseball league manage teams, team rosters and lineup at game time.

Users can also record games, track every pitch location, type and speed and let family and friends who are unable to attend the game, “watch” in real time from anywhere in the world.

ESPN claims that it covers about 5,000 events and thinks that the application will help cover half a million events that they are not at.

The company is currently doing a pilot for the application in southern California where they distributed several 3G iPads to baseball coaches, letting them broadcast games in real time.

“This is an opportunity for people to document actual events they are going to,” Mr. Zehr said. “We are leveraging the mobile device to not just be a delivery mechanism, but to capture that content and context to people.

 “We’re starting to look at location-based services,” he said. “I think our first foray into it let us do some stuff around stadiums and venues and we wanted to know if a person is a business traveler or are they showing up at lots of other places?

“Location-based services become ubiquitous and it will also enable the ability for marketing that hasn’t been able to happen online.”

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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