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ESPN’s ‘Project Blueprint’ measures consumer usage in new and revealing way

Preliminary findings of Project Blueprint show that tablet users are ESPN’s best customer, spending more than 19 hours per month with all types of content.
Preliminary findings of Project Blueprint show that tablet users are ESPN’s best customer, spending more than 19 hours per month with all types of content.

Recently, ESPN announced the preliminary findings of Project Blueprint, the first five-platform measurement initiative, launched in collaboration with Arbitron Inc. and comScore last September.

Front Row spoke with ESPN’s Vice President, Integrated Media Research, Glenn Enoch, about the study and the implications behind some of the findings so far. Enoch is spearheading the initiative alongside Senior Vice President, Research & Analytics Artie Bulgrin.

How is Project Blueprint different than any other measurement studies out there?
Project Blueprint is the first five-platform (TV, radio, PC, smartphone and tablet) measurement initiative. More than just a single study, it is a test to see whether its unique hybrid methodology — combining single-source measures and data integration — can provide continuous measurement of cross-platform usage on a national scale.

According to the findings, the more time fans spend with ESPN digital content, the more they watch ESPN on TV. Can you explain what drives those consumers back to traditional TV?
We knew from work we have previously done on cross-platform research, that ESPN usage is not zero-sum. The more platforms a person uses, the more time they spend with the brand — not just because of the additional time spent on those other platforms, but because they spend more time watching TV as well. We think that the more interested in sports a person is, the more likely [he or she will] consume ESPN on multiple platforms, and spend more time on each of them. So, it’s not a question of digital usage driving TV usage, it’s sports avidity driving multiplatform usage.

The study says that the tablet user is ESPN’s best customer, spending over 19 hours per month with all types of content. What does that say about today’s consumers and sports fans?
Sports fans are early adopters of new technology. They’re more likely than the average TV viewer to be a multichannel subscriber, to have wireless access in their home, to have a DVR, an HD TV set and a smartphone – it’s not surprising that they are more likely to have a tablet. The tablet user is the most likely of the four platforms for which we have data [February 2013] to be a multiplatform user. If the thought is that getting a tablet means spending less time on other devices, we know from studying multiplatform users for over a decade that adopting a new behavior does not mean spending less time on an existing behavior. The tablet user spends more time watching TV than the average TV viewer, more time with a PC than the average PC user and more time using a smartphone than the average smartphone user.

What are some of the challenges you and your team encountered during the research?
There are so many firsts with this project. This is the first time five platforms have been measured on a continuous basis, the first time this hybrid methodology has been tried, the first time Arbitron has linked their Portable People Meter (PPM) panel to another company’s data on a live basis — and all this got underway less than a year ago. So, we set ourselves and our research providers up for a big challenge, but comScore and Arbitron are meeting that challenge.

Preliminary findings of Project Blueprint demonstrate that the more platforms and digital content fans use, the more time they spend with TV in total.
Preliminary findings of Project Blueprint demonstrate that the more platforms and digital content fans use, the more time they spend with TV in total.
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