SYDNEY – Tuesday proved to be quite a day for news in Australia.
In the sport of politics, Australians woke to the news they had a new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. And in the sport of American football, an Aussie named Jarryd Hayne was dominating front pages of newspapers country wide, with fans wondering if the “Hayne Plane,” a running back, would be touching down in the San Francisco 49ers’ first game of the season (presented in the states on ESPN’s Monday Night Football).
With exclusive Australian rights to the MNF game (Tuesday afternoon at 12:15 in Australia), ESPN Australia had to up the ante of the already massive interest in Hayne. He’s an Australian rugby league star making a very rare transition to the NFL. But attention was bound to be divided as outgoing Prime Minister Tony Abbott was to speak to the media at 12:30.
Who were Australians going to watch?
“Throughout the lead up to this historical day, ESPN Australia was the level-headed, reliable voice for expert analysis of the NFL,” said ESPN ANZ general manager Haydn Arndt. “We maintained a special focus on the Hayne story, raised awareness of our exclusive MNF coverage but concentrated on what we do best, delivering fans authentic, timely, accurate coverage. We leveraged the hype around Hayne without sensationalizing it. We focused on the exclusivity of Monday Night Football, ran Australian specific promos featuring Hayne, all helping to establish that ESPN is the home of the NFL in Australia.”
The strategy – which also included commentary and unique insight from ESPN’s NFL Nation 49ers beat reporter Paul Gutierrez sharing his unique insights with a number of Australian media (see sidebar below) – worked well.
ESPN Australia broke all records, becoming the highest-rated and most viewed broadcast in ESPN Australia’s history (a 4.20 HH rating). @ESPNAusNZ trended throughout the entire game and it delivered an audience of 116,000 viewers per minute to rank as the No. 1 broadcast on the ESPN networks in Australia. The previous record was Super Bowl XLVIII which had 107,100 viewers per minute.
— Trends Australia (@TrendsAustralia) September 15, 2015