Perspective on the espnW Summit from some of the company’s executives
DANA POINT, Calif. – The 2015 espnW Women + Sports Summit concludes today for more than 300 participants – the event’s first sellout in its six-year history.
Among the ESPN executives who attended the event, Front Row spent some time with Senior Vice President, SportsCenter and News, Rob King; Executive Vice President and CEO, ESPN, Christine Driessen; and Vice President, espnW, Laura Gentile to get their thoughts on the Summit’s effectiveness and the lasting impressions the 2015 conference has made on them.
ESPN Sustainability worked with the St. Regis Monarch Beach Hotel staff to ensure the waste from the espnW Summit was diverted appropriately through recycling and composting to keep as much waste as possible from ending up in landfills. To offset the emissions from travel as well as on-site operating emissions, a section of forest in Mendocino County, Calif., has been protected from future development.
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Christine Driessen:
The overall impact of the espnW Summits: I think that over six years, we’ve raised the visibility of the issue of women in sports and how powerful it is for media companies to be covering this incredible category. Almost as importantly, we’re providing the vehicle for women to play in the game and be analysts anywhere on the face of the coverage of sports. This year we’ve seen that better than any other year with [MLB analyst] Jessica Mendoza with baseball. We’ve had a lot of firsts from a production standpoint with having these incredibly talented women make strides, like Sarah Spain and Prim Siripipat with their own radio show. We’re finally moving the community to understand how important it is to hear those voices and to hear those points of view. This was our year to come out, in a big way.
The biggest takeaways from the 2015 Summit: I’d say the big takeaway this year is that for the first time, I’m hearing our advertisers be very excited about working with us to use sports as a vehicle to drive sales to their customers. They understand the power of live sports and the power of women, who are huge sports fans of not only women’s sports but men’s sports. For me, I see a higher desire to collaborate with us and let these great women be the voices of the coverage of sports and also partner with our customers in a very different way. They’re open to just a different approach to serve their fans, i.e., also their customers.
Vice President, espnW, Laura Gentile:
The overall impact of the espnW Summits: From Day 1, it’s always been the best expression about what espnW is all about. Over six years, as we’ve fine-tuned the Summit, as we’ve grown stronger, it’s just crystalized what the espnW vision is all about. How you’re gathering influencers, how you’re discussing great content, how you’re honest about issues with each other, how you’re meeting incredible people and then you’re inspiring people and getting them active and moving. It’s everything we believe espnW is all about.
The biggest takeaways from the 2015 Summit: It’s always about impact. How do we work together to create change in the industry? But it seems the sub-theme this year is “women helping women” and “women working with women.” Let’s really support each other and help each other when we can.
Senior Vice President, SportsCenter and News, Rob King:
The overall impact of the espnW Summits:
I think that every time we gather, people are reminded of the power of the combination of ESPN and the market of women who love sports, women who play sports and what that can mean overall for all sports fans and the entire sports storytelling business.
You see connections being made that are important and empowering. You see women growing in their confidence. They’re introduced to new sports stars. Partners are connected to ESPN in ways that are really rich that turn into new deals, new opportunities. So every time, I think this Summit goes a little further in making ESPN’s promise to serve women in sports that much more impactful.
The biggest takeaways from the 2015 Summit: I think the coolest thing is the growing sense of confidence in the mission. Six years ago when I was here, we were really kind of embarking. But now there’s a lot of certainty in the room, a lot of confidence in the room. There’s a lot of belief that the opportunity is right at hand to do things that have never been done before. The voices of the people we talk to are more clever, more interesting, more inspiring than ever before.