A follow up on Sprint and the ESPN text alerts tiff: Sprint's issued a statement about exactly what's going on, confirming that it was, in fact, ESPN that cut off the service in response to a Sprint fee. Here is Sprint's statement, in its entirety:

As many of you have noticed, ESPN SMS text alerts are no longer available to Sprint customers. This is not an action that Sprint took directly but we believe it is due to a fee Sprint charges aggregators for text messaging programs such as the ESPN alerts. This fee is a cost recovery measure designed to allow Sprint to continue to support the billions of text messages that businesses like ESPN send each year as part of mobile marketing campaigns, alerts, etc. The fee affects commercial use of Sprint’s text messaging platform only and is not charged by Sprint to our customers. We are disappointed ESPN has chosen to discontinue offering free text message alerts to our customers.

Sprint has made no changes to the way text messages are delivered to our customers. Sprint customers continue to enjoy unlimited messaging included in Everything Messaging and Everything Data plans.

While text alerts are no longer available, you can still get ESPN content on your Sprint device, for example by visiting the ESPN Mobile website available through the mobile Web on all Sprint data-enabled phones, downloading the ESPN ScoreCenter app for Android phones, or installing ESPN ID Pack available on Sprint ID-capable phones.

Just as we figured, indeed it's a money thing. But at least Sprint's being up front about it. [Sprint]

 

Reader comments

Sprint confirms fee led ESPN to cut free score alert text service

24 Comments

What do you mean thanks Sprint?
You should be thanking ESPN.
All carriers have these fees.
ESPN doesn't want to pay it ...fuck ESPN

I never knew of anyone to even use these. Apps need push notifications for data. I hate getting non-personal texts. If it's someone I know, text is ok. If it's some dumb update, I don't want a text message to deal with.

ESPN trying to push Sprint around. It might work with the cable companies, but not with Sprint. I don't use the text updates (so I'm obviously biased) but I don't have a problem with Sprint's stance at all.

I use it! Where are the alternatives?! Haven't gotten one to work. The ios scorecenter app has great push notification. No where to be found on android. Typical. Such a capable OS with nobody giving a shit!

I worked in collections for a major company on the technology side and we decided to send text messages to our customers that were late. When a company sends out mass texts, its through 1 provider, not all of them and although it may be free to the receiver of the text, the company requesting the texts to be sent (ESPN) is required to pay. Sprint probably made the decision to charge ESPN more, rather than to charge customers for the service. I say good move on Sprint's part. Why go into dept because of an ESPN service? Why charge customers for what they can get for free?

It's not free to the receiver of the text.

Sprint (as with all of the US carriers) charges an obscene amount of money for text messages, both to send and to receive. Most also offer easy methods (like VZWs number@vtext.com emails) to send texts to their customers that don't cost a thing to the sender, but still cost the customer. Sure, wireless customers can get messaging plans added to their contract, but the customer is still paying extra to receive texts.

Any idea if I could use this as a contract-breaker with Sprint? I loved the functionality of this feature.

This feature was great for sports fans who like to keep up with one or two teams, particularly baseball and basketball teams (with games 7 nights/wk) but have real jobs and lives and could never actually watch every game.

Sprint's (and other's) response that suggests we instead go to a mobile website to check scores is perplexing: Won't that require more bandwidth than a simple SMS?

It's also a problem when you're in a stadium (again, we're dealing with sports nuts here) and there's no way in hell you're going to get a decent 3G signal when surrounded by thousands of others sports fans having to do the same thing.

Bad move on Sprint's part. Animus' question about why only Sprint does make me think that Sprint was getting a little too grabby on this one. I plan on calling in today to complain.

Time to get a smartphone. You're on an Android website, after all. Plenty of widgets that'll update in real-time.

With that said, your concern about 3G at the ballpark is a valid one - I was at the O's home opener and 3G was a no-go for me on Sprint and my friend on VZW. I experienced something similar at a Ravens game in January, but I had an Evo then and was able to hop onto the 4G network and didn't have any problems. Still, that's a problem you won't have most of the time - and glace-able widgets (or Live Tiles, like on my Arrive) are a good, if not better substitute.

I was an avid user of the text messages from ESPN. And there is no app that can replace the info I could get for a sports event in an efficient manner like their texts were. I have since tried the ScoreCenter app and I have had issues already. I will look down at the widget and it will tell me that myTEAM is not loaded. Although when I open the app I am logged on. And I am basically at the mercy of when ever the widget wants to refresh. I just liked getting a text when my team scored or when the period, guarter, or inning was over. Pure convenience. I shouldn't have to search for an alternative.

The other big picture here is why doesn't services like Facebook and Twitter that allow text message notifications not held to these fees. I am pretty sure that Facebook mobile text notifications totally blow away the number of ESPN or ChaCha notifications sent. But they are not charged for these fees. So in fairness to ESPN, I would not settle with having to pay an increased fee while watching large social platforms get away with it.

ESPN=ABC=Disney=Apple being a large minority shareholder. And Sprint ain't got no iPhone or iPad.

download the yahoo sports app, I forget the name of it, scorecenter or something ? you can set it to give you notifications for games of certain teams, at different intervals, just as espn let you previously.

It's not just ESPN. ChaCha recently cut off text messaging services for Sprint customers too. It's not simply the fee itself that caused this, it was the recent fee increase.

This kind of sucks for me. I'm looking to go back to Sprint(leaving T-Mo cause of AT&T purchase) and I use these texts. I should preface this by saying that I hate sports. I do however work for a company that operates many gas stations that have promotions based on the win/loose or score of a game from the local teams. I Like to know the night before if the next day at work is going to be slow or busy. I think Sprint needs to bite the bullet and go back to their previous agreement cause there are going to be a lot of pissed off people over this.

How much do these texts actually cost sprint?

According to this (http://www.boingboing.net/2008/05/12/sms-data-rate-is-4x.html) there are 7490 SMS messages in a megabyte.

If ESPN sends a billion text messages, thats 133511 MB, or 133GB. Not a huge number in the big picture. I have to wonder what sprint is charging.

Better yet, why do we even still have text messaging rates\charges when everyone's moving to data plans?

All I have to say if this was AT&T or VZW pulling this bullcrap, we'd see the trailer park loser Sprint fanboi's with their repeated on and on comments how one should go to Sprint.

Verizon did this a year or so ago with 4INFO text alerts (I think), and after a couple weeks, they magically came back. For anyone suffering this outage, however, I recommend using 4INFO alerts. You can manage all your alerts online (www.4info.net), as we via text message on your phone by just texting to 4info. Check it out, and see if it helps until they get this resolved...or not...