ESPN3 — ESPN’s live multi-screen network — is maximizing the viewing experience for sports fans during this year’s Championship Week (March 1-11).
Starting today, ESPN3 will carry 225 live conference tournament games featuring 28 different conferences tournaments including the BIG EAST, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 and SEC games.
This Saturday alone, ESPN3 will have its biggest day ever, carrying more than 195 live hours and 93 live events, including men’s and women’s college basketball, college baseball and softball, lacrosse, ACC wrestling, boys and girls HS basketball, rugby, soccer and tennis.
So how does one network deliver that many live games at once?
John Lasker, senior director, programming & acquisitions for ESPN3, sat down with ESPN Front Row and explains the challenges of delivering ESPN3’s robust schedule and how fans can now enjoy the network’s Championship Week game coverage live on Facebook:
FR: What kind of effort in terms of resources and staffing goes into preparing for this kind of volume?
JL: We have a great operation in place from content acquisition through video operation and delivery that allows us to deliver approximately 5,000 events per year on ESPN3. Delivering 93 events successfully within a 24-hour period is truly a dedicated team effort and fantastic representation of our commitment and ability to serve sports fans.
FR: How does the flexibility of ESPN3 allow for such a large slate of games to be carried simultaneously?
JL: This is a funny question, as I just came across an article this week where I stated a goal, in 2007, of being able to deliver 10 events at one time. Because of the incredible growth and success of ESPN3 and the hard work of a lot of people, our infrastructure and work flow now allows ESPN3 to deliver up to 30 live events at any given time. An incredible feat that was unimaginable just a few years ago.
FR: How will Facebook help ESPN serve fans during Championship Week?
JL: The Facebook (option) is the result of our “10,000 front doors” strategy for ESPN3, which started with the ESPN3 player on AustralianOpen.com this past January, where we achieved fantastic results. We believe in making content available to sports fans wherever they are and choose to consume. That can mean ESPN.com, Facebook, AustralianOpen.com and others. This is another core piece to our distribution strategy moving forward.
FR: ESPN3 continues to grow at a rapid pace. Do you consider it to be its own network at this point?
JL: ESPN3 is a network, born in a non-traditional way, and delivered in a non-traditional form. The launch on Xbox LIVE and the resulting usage and adoption has proven the value of the network and the content it delivers. A primary goal is to continue to expand ESPN3’s distribution to the best available screen…the TV.
FR: With so many live events, are there any specific sports that you are focusing on for ESPN3?
JL: We are focused on three core content pillars: College sports, anchored by college football, basketball and NCAA championships; tennis, anchored by the outer court coverage from all four Grand Slam events; and international sports, anchored by national team soccer and cricket.
Note: For users who receive ESPN3 through an affiliated Internet service provider, the player will be able to automatically identify them as an authenticated user. Users whose subscription is tied to their video account will be directed to www.watchespn.com to authenticate.