EDITOR’S NOTE: In her role as Senior Director of Strategic & Brand Insights, Flora Kelly @ESPNFlora is charged with overseeing ESPN’s market, audience, fan, and media insights in order to strengthen the ESPN Brand and identifying growth opportunities for the business.
Despite all the challenges of 2020, it was a year of great growth and leadership for ESPN across digital and social platforms. Not only did ESPN Digital maintain its lead as No. 1 in the sports category for 34 straight months, but the ESPN App widened its margin as the No. 1 U.S. sports app, and ESPN Social climbed to the No. 1 spot as the leading sports media publisher for engagement. The year also saw significant strides in streaming, including ESPN’s best streaming month ever in September, driven by both ESPN+ – ESPN’s fastest-growing video product with more than 11.5 million subscribers – and authenticated TV Everywhere.
On top of all that, due to a recent change in methodology in Comscore’s multi-platform reporting, we are now also capturing a more accurate picture of our mobile video audience – a huge area of growth for us. It’s great news for the industry overall, though there are a few things to keep in mind for context as reports are released moving forward:
YouTube & Syndicated Video Players – Naturally, those that distribute much of their content off-platform benefit the most from this methodology change. This includes those that publish on YouTube or syndicate their video players.
Reach vs. Engagement – The amount of time users spend viewing video content is a more accurate indicator of engagement than the number of unique users.
Brand Lift – ESPN’s efforts in the digital and social space are not only to expand its audience, but also its brand. Regardless of platform, fans consuming ESPN content know they are watching ESPN. It’s incredibly valuable, particularly in reaching younger audiences.
Today’s press release provides a summary of ESPN’s digital and social audience in 2020. As we look ahead, we’re incredibly excited for what’s to come and to expand upon this momentum alongside new measurement tools that more accurately capture usage across platforms.