ESPN Signs Six Sponsors for its Mobile Service

Disney’s ESPN has signed six category-exclusive sponsors for its branded mobile service, Mobile ESPN. But the company is still working to sign additional advertisers for the virtual mobile network, which will be offered at Best Buy stores nationwide starting February 5.

Cisco Systems, General Motors, Hilton, Nike and Visa have become charter sponsors of the service, which is already signing up subscribers on its Web site. Each sponsor will be able to run :03 to :05 video spots before content is played. Each also has the opportunity to offer a branded “utility.” Coors plans to sponsor the “Answer Guy” where users can ask sports questions and receive answers on their phones.

“They are making a significant commitment in media dollars to our mobile platforms,” Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN/ABC Sports consumer marketing and sales, told ClickZ News. “They also aid in activation to help us sell ESPN’s mobile phone.”

ESPN doesn’t plan to bring in additional sponsors in the first year, but advertisers can still buy inventory on the mobile platform. ESPN plans to sell ads on select properties including “Monday Night Football.”

Erhardt says ESPN’s sales team will sell across all properties — TV, magazines, Internet and mobile — and will offer advertisers multi-platform deals. “We believe very strongly in the notion in which we have a team to go to the advertiser with a full group [of offerings] that are media agnostic,” he said.

In July, ESPN’s parent company Disney announced plans to launch another mobile virtual network, called Disney Mobile, geared toward family users.

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