Behind The ScenesESPN

MNF’s Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden are your guides to using WatchESPN

It’s only July, but the Monday Night Football commentator team of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden are already breaking down tape and crystalizing what viewers see.

This play-by-play however, is a bit different. In the how-to video above, Tirico and Gruden take sports fans through a complete explanation of how to authenticate the WatchESPN app via their cable provider and navigate through all the live programming available through the service. Once again, Monday Night Football will be accessible on WatchESPN for the 2012 season.

ESPN's Dave Coletti

June was a big month for WatchESPN — its best-ever — and again proved the app is a go-to destination for live sports. The month was filled with non-stop action from across the sports world, including EURO 2012, the NBA Playoffs and Finals, French Open, Wimbledon, the NCAA Baseball Championships and more. The result: 1.1 billion live minutes viewed and an average minute audience of 24,467 across computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox.

Dave Coletti, Vice President, Digital Media Research and Analytics, spoke to Front Row about ESPN3 and WatchESPN.

What does surpassing one billion minutes viewed for the month mean in terms of reach?
It means we’re seeing more and more people turn to digital sources to view ESPN content. June was a perfect storm for WatchESPN and ESPN3 — we had compelling content, much of which was live during dayparts when people didn’t have access to a TV and needed their digital “best available screen” to follow the action. In addition, we’re seeing increasing consumer awareness of the availability of live digital video, along with rapidly growing adoption of the technology that facilitates more usage. Nearly 20 percent of those one billion minutes were viewed on smartphones, tablets and Xbox — devices that either had low ownership, or simply didn’t exist, just a few years ago.

Unique viewers tend to be the measure by which most use as a benchmark for traffic and viewership. Is that an accurate barometer?
The unique viewers metric gives us one element in understanding our performance: reach. It tells you how many people visited your site or app, at least once, over some period of time — often it’s expressed as being over a calendar month. Reach is important, but it’s not everything. Of course we want to get as many people as we can to view our digital video content, but we also want them to (a) spend a lot of time with that content, and (b) return to watch more content as often as possible! So looking solely at unique viewers, which far too many people in the digital industry do, is misleading because it’s a terribly incomplete metric.

Can you explain what average minute audience is and why ESPN looks at it?
Average minute audience is simply the average amount of people viewing WatchESPN/ESPN3 in each minute of the program. We also use that metric across all of our other digital platforms — how many people are visiting, using the ScoreCenter app, etc., on a per-minute basis. It’s important for a few reasons: First, average minute audience is a great indicator of performance because it takes into account both reach (number of users) and engagement (time spent on a platform). Next, it allows us to evaluate our audience across digital platforms so we can determine how fans are consuming content on computers, smartphones, tablets and game consoles at any point in time. And finally, average minute audience allows us to evaluate our audience across all media platforms — digital, TV and audio. For all these reasons, average-minute audience is an extremely valuable metric to use as we make strategic decisions about the programming, sales, marketing and distribution of our content.

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