It’s the talk of the Sprint Forums, and I’ve seen more than a few mentions on Twitter. ESPN has elected to stop providing their free sport scores to their customers on the Sprint network. There seems to be a lot of confusion about who to blame for this loss – Sprint or ESPN? Well, it’s a little of each, but I have to put the majority of the blame on Sprint.
Sprint recently announced it would be adding an additional half-cent per message fee to businesses who send text messages. Consumers don’t see this fee. It only applies to businesses. But not all businesses! A few companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, were exempted from this fee. Why? Because the fee makes providing free SMS to their users unsustainable, and Sprint didn’t want to hear the uproar of people denied access to their Facebook texts. But for companies such as ESPN (who is not a 4INFO partner) and The Weather Channel (who IS a 4INFO partner), that additional fee was enough to break their business model, and led to the decision that serving Sprint customers was no longer feasible.
From where I sit, these extra fees are not justified by the carriers. Sprint’s current ad campaign is emphasizing their “unlimited” plans – but those plans are worthless if Sprint charges businesses at levels that make providing mobile content unsustainable. There is no evidence that the cost of sending an SMS message has increased in proportion to this fee increase. So why do it? It looks like pure efforts to improve the bottom line. Sprint is a business. I get that. It’s their obligation to make profits. But this move is one that hurts both their consumer and commercial business, and I’m having a hard time seeing it as a smart move in the long run.