ESPN Wants To Pay Your Cell Phone Data Bill For You (When You Use Their Apps)

Want to know how crappy your data plan actually is? Content providers like ESPN are looking into paying your bills whenever you choose to use their apps.

Yes, ESPN, easily one of the most profitable channels on cable, is apparently considering paying for your data whenever you watch ESPN on your phone or tablet:

No such arrangement is imminent, and ESPN isn’t sure if the economics will work out, the people familiar with the matter said. There are also concerns that deals of this nature could attract the scrutiny of telecom regulators.

Such a deal would mark a significant development in the wireless business, creating a new model for media and telecom companies to share the costs of bringing bandwidth-guzzling services to consumers. Another way media companies could compensate carriers is by sharing advertising revenue with them.

Yeah, we’ll see that last one around the time ESPN cuts its retransmission fees. If you’re wondering why ESPN is thinking about this, consider that in March mobile devices became the key market for their digital content.

Still, this does raise an interesting question about data caps and the growing mobile television industry. It’s not a big secret that mobile providers enjoy charging you enormous fees for crossing your data limit, and it’s also not a big secret that content providers like ESPN need all the channels and ways to reach people they can get as audiences fracture.

Or, you know, the major mobile carriers could stop pretending that data is like muffins or booty shorts and is an abstract concept instead of a physical object. But where’s the money in that?