June 26 marked the final day of the group stage for 2014 FIFA World Cup. Growing interest in the event spurred record-breaking traffic on ESPN FC that day (for specific numbers, see photos, captions above).
Front Row spoke to the ESPN FC team – senior directors Bimal Kapadia (ESPN FC), Adam Deutsch (product management), Swati Vakharia (technology development) and deputy editor James Martin (ESPN FC) – for a look behind those numbers and how the newly redesigned site supported the traffic boom.
What trends are you seeing for the new site as far as usage both domestically and globally?
BK: This year’s World Cup is certainly amplifying the growing popularity of global football, and we’ve been fortunate enough to see it come closer to fruition with our dedicated global site. Ever since EURO 2012, ESPNFC.com has been experiencing growth across all platforms and regions, particularly in the US. But we’ve also seen tremendous growth across mobile in regions of Asia and Africa. It shows that our ESPN brand is strong globally and with the dedicated coverage to football, we’ll get new fans and already avid fans – from anywhere across any device.
Do you see any direct correlations with the traffic you’re seeing on the site to the enhancements the team has made for the redesign?
AD: Yes, we are seeing several interesting correlations. The biggest story is video overall and specifically mobile web video. Most days, video views from mobile devices are accounting for 25-35 percent of total video starts – a big jump from prior usage. Overall video views are also up over 800 percent from the 2010 World Cup. Of course, a lot of digital habits and technology have changed and improved since then, but that is surely noteworthy growth in video consumption.
How has the tech team planned for the wave of traffic to the new ESPNFC.com site for the World Cup?
SV: Since kickoff on June 12, we continue to partner with technical operations teams across ESPN and Disney on both coasts to ensure that we have the best level of support during peak matches, including real-time monitoring, a virtual war room including both online chat and a conference bridge, as well as identified staff representing all aspects of the infrastructure to handle any issues that may arise in real time.
Has the new redesign impacted exposure to editorial content on ESPNFC.com?
JM: The redesign has allowed us to publish stories in a more efficient manner and expose more content. This, in turn, means we can deliver more content to the user in an even more timely manner, and not be shy about assigning many stories around one event. The redesign exposes so much content that stories are less likely to get buried – in an ever-scroll environment, users are engaged on virtually all our content – so we’re encouraged to publish even more aggressively.