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Verizon Wireless to offer ESPN mobile application

NEW YORK - Verizon Wireless, the second biggest U.S. mobile phone service, said on Wednesday it had an exclusive deal with sports network ESPN to bring everything from video highlights to score updates to cell phones.

The wireless venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc has a multiyear exclusive agreement to offer the service. It is the first company to sell the service since the Walt Disney Co said it was shuttering its ESPN-branded mobile phone service in September.

In February of last year, ESPN started offering its own mobile phone service using network space rented from Sprint Nextel Corp, but not enough sports fans wanted to switch to get the company's specially designed phone, equipped to offer its sports information application.

ESPN switched instead, to a strategy of offering its information via other carriers.

The application is an effort by ESPN to expand its brand among mobile phone users. Verizon Wireless hopes to attract sports fans and improve the loyalty of existing customers.

"The demographic is very compatible," said Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson, adding that a high proportion of young adult males among Verizon's VCast video clip users.

Verizon Wireless said it would offer the service free to customers who pay $15 a month to subscribe to its VPak service, which includes its existing VCast video clip offerings.

Some Verizon Wireless rivals offer some information from ESPN but not the entire application, Nelson said.

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