No. 1 in Digital Sports Media
In 2016, no digital sports brand in the world reached a greater number of global sports fans than ESPN. Throughout the year, ESPN remained No. 1 in the digital sports category for average minute audience, total minutes and total visits, with an average of more than 110 million unique users per month, peaking at 136 million in September. ESPN accounted for 29% of all sports usage across digital platforms – more than the Nos. 2 and 3 sports properties combined.
The Only Global Digital Platform in Sports
The ESPN App and the redesigned ESPN.com – the most popular sports app and website of all-time – launched new, global products in 10 regions, including Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, India, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States (in Spanish) and Venezuela. ESPN’s global platform delivered record performance and traffic for each region and enabled ESPN to more effectively and efficiently share and monetize content across global regions and devices. The result has been record traffic and consumption, both in the U.S. and around the world.
The Top 2 Apps in Sports
Measured by both reach and consumption, the ESPN App and the ESPN Fantasy App enjoyed a huge 2016, culminating in a record-setting October in which the ESPN App reached a category best 15.6 million unique fans, followed by the ESPN Fantasy App with 13.6 million. In terms of total minutes, ESPN Fantasy App was No. 1 with 3.5 billion, and the ESPN App was No. 2 with 1.4 billion.
WatchESPN and ESPN Radio in the ESPN App
Allowing sports fans to enjoy immersive, personalized experiences from scores, stats and news to live streaming, podcasts and radio, the ESPN App became a mobile powerhouse in 2016. The ESPN App serves billions of total minutes each month, a metric that continues to grow, while minutes for the rest of the sports category are declining.
More Fans Streaming More on WatchESPN and ESPN App
Now fully integrated into the industry-leading ESPN App, WatchESPN continues to grow and increasingly contribute meaningful incremental audience lift to ESPN’s television offerings. In 2016, WatchESPN averaged 8.2 million unique devices and 1.8 billion minutes per month, up 31% and 52%, respectively, from a year ago.
Building for the Future with BAMTech
The Walt Disney Company acquired a 33% stake (with the option to acquire majority ownership in coming years) in BAMTech, an industry-leading technology services and video streaming company. In addition to BAMTech becoming a global technology partner to Disney and ESPN, it will also collaborate with ESPN to launch and distribute a new ESPN-branded multi-sport subscription streaming service in the future.
Keeping Good Company in Around the World
ESPN also reached ground-breaking new collaborations throughout the world with other innovative media and technology companies. These included new long term-collaborations with Tencent in China for ESPN content production, localization, distribution and promotion; Sony Pictures Networks, for thousands of hours of programming and the launch of SONY ESPN-branded channels and digital properties in India; and with Econet in sub-Saharan Africa for the launch of an ESPN channel, localized SportsCenter updates and an African edition of ESPN.com and the ESPN app.
Growing Influence of espnW
As the line between sports and important and often sensitive topics continued to blur in the news and society this year, espnW further established itself as a leader of dialogue with voices such as SportsCenter’s Cari Champion (via her espnW podcast Be Honest), writer/reporters Kate Fagan, Jane McManus, Sarah Spain and others added to the conversation. Also, localized digital presence in Australia and Brazil were espnW’s first initiatives off U.S. shores.
One ESPN Fantasy App
ESPN Digital brought four fantasy sports – football, baseball, basketball, and hockey – into one new app with refreshed visuals and a new user interface. Not surprisingly, the ESPN Fantasy App had more minutes consumed (2.8 billion) than any other sports app in its first full month (September) and 3.5 billion in October.
The Fantasy Football Marathon
Driven by ESPN’s first ever televised Fantasy Football Marathon, ESPN Fantasy Football, already the industry’s No. 1 fantasy football game, enjoyed its two biggest days ever and signed up more players during each day of the event than any other day in the game’s 20-year history. Also, as part of the 28-hour marathon, ESPN counted 1,753,511 teams drafted, surpassing its goal of 1,000,000 for the event.
The Only Member of the 30/30 Twitter Club
ESPN became the first and only member of the “30/30 Club” on Twitter when @ESPN and @SportsCenter each surpassed 30 million followers.
New Platforms for Innovative Content
Continuing to expand its reach to serve more sports fans, ESPN launched The Undefeated, as well as verticals for WWE and esports, while FiveThirtyEight’s popularity soared with the year’s political climate, espnW increased its presence across ESPN platforms, ESPN on SnapChat Discover continued to reach new audiences.
Sports Fans are Listening
ESPN Podcasts set usage records almost every month in 2016, paced by FiveThirtyEight and Fantasy Focus Football. ESPN’s first long-form podcast, the five-part Dunkumentaries, was named Podcast of the Year by RAIN (all topics, not restricted to sports). In one of ESPN’s most ambitious storytelling initiatives ever, the multiplatform Pin Kings was presented in 16 chapters on Audio, while television, print and digital pieces all told the story in formats that fit the specific audiences of each platform.
ESPN The Magazine: No. 1 in Print
With 6.9 million readers, ESPN The Magazine is the top publication in total reach (print and digital) among men 18-34, which is 25% higher than any other publication and up 10% over a year ago. Overall, the reach is 18.4 million, 12% more than 2015. The year was also notable for the appointment of Alison Overholt as editor-in-chief, the first woman to hold that title at a national sports magazine.