EDITOR’S NOTE: Justin Connolly is executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing for Disney and ESPN Media Networks. He and his team secure agreements with both traditional and digital distributors, including authenticated access to ESPN content. With today’s launch, Connolly reflects on the company’s latest efforts in TV Everywhere distribution.
In today’s media landscape, the key to success is just as much about making our content available anytime, anywhere as it is making it accessible in a simple and seamless way. That is why, starting this week, ESPN will be among the first sports apps to be supported by the Apple TV app – a unified place for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV users to discover and start watching video. By surfacing the quality and depth of our content within the Apple TV app experience, we expect to not only drive additional viewership and engagement, but also more downloads to the ESPN App.
From the very beginning, we’ve embraced opportunities through technology to deliver authenticated streaming access to ESPN, and today is no exception. It has led to ubiquitous distribution across all major pay TV providers – both traditional and digital – and devices. By doing so, we’ve seen steady year-over-year growth. In fact, so far in 2017 (through Dec. 5), ESPN has logged 415 million hours of streaming – surpassing our previous record of 335 million hours set last year and 24 percent higher compared to all of 2016.
For years, we strongly believed that the impact of this streaming on our total audience would be significant. Now, as noted by early results released today of our Nielsen Total Live Audience measurement, we have empirical data to prove that. When it comes to live sports streaming, ESPN continues to lead the industry, and today marks the latest step in our decade-long journey (and counting).