Last week, ESPN hosted “The Pitch” for summer interns from Bristol, New York and Los Angeles.
This creative competition challenges individuals or teams to “pitch” a new business, content or programming idea to a panel of ESPN employee judges. This year, a group of three Bristol-based interns won first place. Their idea: Incorporate virtual reality into the ESPN mobile experience.
Front Row sat down with Doug Bell (a rising senior at Vanderbilt). Amanda Marcotullio (a recent Vanderbilt grad) and Rob Schrader (a rising senior at the University of Southern California) from ESPN’s Programming Department to talk about their business model.
How was this idea born?
RS: We were looking for something ambitious and emerging that would have a lasting impact on the company so that’s where virtual reality came in.
DB: Once we started looking into it, we realized how much it relates to sports. When we talked to employees around the company, we realized that it’s a very buzzed-about subject but that one department has to push it forward.
How did people at ESPN help and contribute to the evolution of this idea?
DB: We started talking to people around our department who then led us to people in other departments and so on. First, we talked to the technology group. The more people we met, we figured out what the company has done so far, where the technology is, and what limitations we would have.
RS: Once we realized what we could do technologically, we got down to business. We talked to advertising and sales, sponsorship, product technology and affiliate sales.
What was the key to your idea that led to winning the competition?
AM: Virtual reality is a hot topic right now, but it’s hard to pull off. It’s expensive and takes a lot of technology. I think what really sealed the deal for us was when we figured out how to monetize it and show executives it’s a worthy investment.
DB: I think right now is perfect timing for the technology for our pitch. We didn’t have the technology five years ago and if we waited five years to do it, we’d be behind.
Shannon Donohue produced the video.