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Foss-tering ESPN’s YouTube Strategy with Ingenuity and Growth

ESPN’s social teams continued a record-setting fall with incredible viewership across its YouTube channels encompassing all programming. In November alone, ESPN’s YouTube channels totaled 1.3 BILLION views and over 300 MILLION unique viewers for the month. 

Mike Foss, Vice President, Digital Production, provides insight to ESPN’s YouTube strategy and its accomplishments: 

What is ESPN’s YouTube strategy? 
We’ve created a blended portfolio across our 14 channels on YouTube. The goal is to provide unique content experiences on each channel utilizing the broad range of ESPN’s production groups. Audiences see a mix of original, studio, highlight, and streaming content in a variety of lengths across our YouTube channels. This year has been a tremendous growth story. We’ve generated more than 6 billion views across the portfolio, up more than 66% from the previous year.

"This year has been a tremendous growth story. [for ESPN on YouTube] We've generated more than 6 billion views across the portfolio, up more than 66% from the previous year." - Mike Foss, ESPN VP Digital Production

How does ESPN separate itself with its YouTube content? 
The same way ESPN separates itself on any platform we program – through breadth and depth of content. There are plenty of other places making compelling content on YouTube, but there is no rival to ESPN when it comes to scope in the sports category. Our presence on YouTube is simply a harnessing of that scope specifically for the audience, and this strategy is working as we are averaging more than a billion views each month on our YouTube channels.

How is ESPN expanding our audience through YouTube?
We are driving expansion with younger audiences. Our core consumer on the platform is between 13-34, which aligns with the trends we see on our other social channels and platforms.  

SportsNation relaunched in August, what helped make that so successful on YouTube?
We’ve tapped into user-generated content on SportsNation, which is not something we’d emphasized across YouTube previously. The results to date have been tremendous to say the least. The channel has generated nearly 3 billion views with nearly 70% of the audience aged 34 or younger. As we saw in the October Comscore reporting, SportsNation contributed 20M unique users in North America in the month, so this has been both incremental and complimentary growth as well as audience development. 

Foss’s Faves

“I love this clip from our soft launch of SportsNation of Stephen A. Smith and Mike Wilbon reacting to a game-winning shot from the NBA playoffs.”

“Our original series, ‘Signature Shots with Kirk Goldsberry’ has been excellent for several years. I think this episode on Damian Lillard is my favorite to date.”

“And finally, any 2021 list would be incomplete without Baby Stephen A.”

Mike Foss was a recent guest on the ESPN PRod Pod.

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