Behind The Scenes

ESPN Digital Media Report: Measuring across platforms

ESPN.com on an IPad
ESPN.com on an iPad (Photo illustration by Hannah Worster)

Last week, ESPN released its first Digital Audience Report, based on comScore’s new Multi Platform (Beta) data for January.

Measuring consumption of digital content across platforms is important to ESPN’s business partners, but it is also vital to serving sports fans anytime, anywhere.

As part of our continuing dialogue with ESPN Research, Front Row checked in with Dave Coletti, Vice President, Digital Media Research and Analytics.

Your team has been working internally and with comScore for years to develop insight into how sports fans consume content across platforms. But this is the first time you’ve released a report of this kind. Why now?
It’s the first time we’ve had cross-platform data coming from a third-party source. Like you mentioned, for years we’ve used our internal analytics data to provide insight on user behavior across devices and platforms. Until comScore released their January Multi Platform data, there hadn’t been a research company publishing such information. That is hugely important, as it allows the media, ad agencies, marketers and the like to finally have the ability to evaluate the totality of ESPN’s digital audience, not just look at it in small pieces.

What does last week’s report tell us about ESPN Digital Media?
To quote the legendary Ron Burgundy, it tells us that ESPN digital media is a pretty big deal! Seriously, looking at comScore’s Multi Platform data, our digital content reached 63 million people for nearly 5 billion minutes. That’s staggering scale. We learned that the 111,351 people per minute using ESPN platforms was a larger audience than the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 sports properties combined. We also saw that 39 percent of our digital users exclusively accessed content via their smartphone or tablet. In fact, among the top 25 digital properties in the U.S., only Pandora received a bigger lift from mobile users to their total digital reach than ESPN.

Plus, we used a host of other datasets in that report. Our Adobe SiteCatalyst analytics data showed the volume of video content that is being consumed (292 million video clips viewed, 437 million minutes spent with ESPN3 and WatchESPN linear networks). Social data detailed how there was more activity around ESPN TV content than any other cable network, how content on the ESPN Faceook page reached nearly 15 million people, and how our @ESPN and @SportsCenter Twitter feeds were retweeted, favorite or replied to 1.2 million times.

All of these data are a testament to the rapid adoption of mobile, video and social by sports fans, and helps us better understand how to build products, serve content, market our offerings and develop innovative ad executions.

How will the digital audience report evolve as you continue to release the numbers each month?
The report is a dynamic work in progress. We’ll certainly find new insights that contextualize ESPN’s position both in the sports category and across the broader digital landscape. We’ll introduce metrics to show the full scope of our social reach and impact. And we’ll highlight in greater detail the audiences to our vast array of products and platforms.

Ultimately we want to position it as ESPN’s public digital report of record. The digital research and analytics world is an ever-changing, highly confusing place, and we plan to bring a lot more clarity to it. This report should be a great mechanism to achieve that.

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