In a rather ominous message to the growing MVNO market, Mobile ESPN announced today it was terminating its wireless phone service. Disney pulled the plug just hours after confirming rumors that "big changes" were in store for the carrier. According to Mobile ESPN's Web site, the service will stop as of December 31, although the sports-oriented content soon will be available through major carriers. Customers are free to drop the service anytime without penalty, and they'll get refunds for the purchase price of their Sanyo MVP once their accounts are paid in full.
It's no secret that MVNOs are entering a tough market, especially as they continue to grow in number. Reportedly Mobile ESPN picked up just a few thousand subscribers, and Helio isn't faring much better. It's still too early to say how successful Disney Mobile will be, but I'd guess the family angle has more widespread appeal than phones for sports fans.