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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 15, 2014

Univision Mobile Tries Content Approach to Mobile

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Univision Communications and T-Mobile (News - Alert) US are launching Univision Mobile, a mobile service combining both the “ethnic population” focus and “content focus” segmentation tactics that have been tried, with greater or less success, over the past decade in the U.S. mobile business.

Univision content will anchor the new service, available May19, 2014. The service will include a “Univision Rewards” program and portal, content, events and apps.

Walmart will be the exclusive national retailer of Univision Mobile, and the service also will be available at 6,000 independent dealer locations serving Hispanic communities throughout the United States.

All Univision Mobile plans automatically include unlimited international texting from the United States to select Latin American countries and 200 countries and destinations around the world, as well as 100 minutes to call mobile or landline numbers from the U.S. to eight Latin American countries, including Mexico.

Univision Rewards will offer ringtones, wallpapers,sneak peeks of new Univision shows and premieres, as well as other event features.

The Univision Mobile portal will feature Univision news, sports, entertainment and apps.

The issue is the degree of success Univision Mobile might attain. ESPN (News - Alert) and Disney are some content providers that have tried content-focused mobile services over the last decade, and neither of those efforts succeeded.

But Univision Mobile seems to be taking an approach that does not limit the actual devices available, so long as the device is compatible with the T-Mobile US network. That is a major advantage.

Other mobile virtual network operators have been hampered by limited device selection.

Mobile ESPN would have seemed a likely winner, given the salience of sports content, and the opportunity to provide “breaking” sports scores. Mobile ESPN was marketed for just eight months before being abandoned.

ESPN miscalculated, some would argue, that its customers valued its sports content so much that they would value the mobile service featuring some of that content as well. In principle that might have been correct. In practice, Mobile ESPN offered only one device, priced at $500, available only online and from Best Buy.

Other MVNOs have succeeded with demographic niches, such as Virgin Mobile (News - Alert), anchored by teen and twenty-something subscribers.

But many other content-specific efforts have encountered the “limited device” approach.

Helio, founded by Korea's SK Telecom and Earthlink (News - Alert), also targeted a younger customer demographic, selling just two devices. Helio also featured MySpace integration as well.

Disney (News - Alert) Mobile, a service aimed at kids and their parents, also focused on content, and also failed.

The issue now is the degree to which Univision Mobile has mastered the device supply issue, the content attractiveness and branding issue, distribution and value proposition. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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