Three Questions: ESPN Executive Shares How the Network is Super-Serving Sports Fans
The way that people watch sports has changed drastically in the past several years. Cable programmers have provided audiences with easy and new ways to access thousands of hours of their favorite programming and sporting competitions, and via almost any connected device, through apps that make watching TV an anytime, anywhere experience. And now, ESPN just might be the driving force behind more change ahead for digital sports viewing.
The network launched ESPN+ earlier this spring on the ESPN app, its first direct-to-consumer streaming service and one which delivers a much more personalized sports viewing experience for subscribers. The service offers access to all of ESPN's news, original video and audio content for fans to watch and tune into on their own schedules, and it is offered across multiple connected devices and platforms for a fan's convenience.
Aaron LaBerge, executive vice president and chief technology officer at ESPN, shared with us a few of the different ways that ESPN is listening to audiences and paving the future of digital sports viewership.
How is this kind of TV Everywhere experience unique and tailored to sports fans?
We introduced a more personalized home screen, making it the most personal version of ESPN yet—balancing what is important to you, with ESPN’s editorial voice. The new ESPN App does a great job of delivering the right piece of content for you, at the right time.
When and how did the concept for this new app come about?
We are always evolving our products. We do that by listening to our fans and ourselves (we're fans too) by looking at usage data, experimentation, user testing, and focus groups. About eight months ago we decided to re-design the ESPN App. Our focus was on making it more personal and entirely re-imagining our video experience with the introduction of ESPN+. This release also focused on creating bolder content experiences with more personality. We wanted to make sure that this felt like ESPN.
We will continue to invest heavily in our personalization engine and content experiences—with the goal of serving each fan exactly what they want every time they open the app.
How does ESPN stand apart as a network that gives sports fans the viewing experience that they want?
Today's fans view content on multiple screens. They're visiting us more frequently, and expecting news and information instantaneously. Today we serve them in a variety of ways.
- Breaking News: ESPN has the best journalists in the business and we have given them tools that let them publish content to our application in real time.
- Alerts: ESPN sends over four billion monthly alerts, personalized based on the leagues, teams and games you are most interested in.
- Highlights: Cut in real time and delivered immediately to a fan’s home screen with a proprietary technology (Fast Clipper) that allows us to be faster than anyone else.
There is probably no better example of this innovation than the NFL Draft. The ESPN App had fans covered in every way imaginable. During the buildup to the draft, we created content tailored to fans of every team – from mock drafts to team breakdowns. We delivered this in a personalized way on their app home screen. As storylines evolved, we broke news through alerts and kept fans up-to-date in real time, right in the application.
During the draft, we auto-played our live stream of the coverage right at the top of the application for NFL fans, surrounded by best-in-class editorial coverage which included pick-by-pick analysis, videos and draft summaries.
This type of live coverage, leveraging the depth and breadth of ESPN’s content, delivered in a personalized way, make the ESPN App the ultimate destination for sports fans.