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ESPN’s Bodenheimer on the Three Screen Opportunity

2 minute read | June 2010

At the Nielsen Consumer 360 client event in Las Vegas, Nevada, George Bodenheimer, President ESPN, Inc. sat down with Susan Whiting, Vice Chair and Executive Vice President at the Nielsen Company to discuss the role of three screens, TV, Online and Mobile to ESPN in the evolving media landscape.

Keep it Simple

Bodenheimer noted that ESPN’s mission is simple: To Serve Sports Fans. In accordance with this mission, the philosophy and strategy of the company is to adopt early and see what works – what works, improve it, what doesn’t, stop doing it. This goes for the production of live events to the adoption of new device applications. The biggest threat to the business is being complacent.

While TV is still the “Mack truck” of sports, with 80% of all sports programming consumed on TV, producing for TV vs. mobile vs. Internet is very different and understanding what works for each is critical to ESPN. A great example is the coverage of the World Cup in South Africa, where 10% of viewership in the opening weekend is not taking place on TV.

Usage of the second and third screens aren’t cannibalizing TV, but rather increasing consumption. And social media is being used to drive traffic to the ESPN website – predominant sites used include Twitter and Facebook.

Making it Work

Having one single point of contact for all content is critical. “At ESPN, there are no silos,” says Bodenheimer. One digital center allows a collaborative and seamless delivery of programming across TV, digital, mobile and online devices.

The idea that viewership now spreads across multiple screens is no longer a big deal. ESPN has been researching and experimenting in this sphere for the past 12 years and will continue to explore new methods to meet their company mission.

Their advanced testing facility in Austin Texas uses biotechnological methods to monitor the consumption of sports and advertising. And at the Walt Disney facility in Orlando, there is a large sports center where athletes come to compete – this gives ESPN the advantage of testing their extensive production facility to continue to improve their editing methods across all mediums.

The Next Big Thing

With the iPad having launched a few months ago and two million already out there, what could be the next big thing? The most honest answer to that question, is “I don’t know,” commented Bodenheimer. The answer will come from the 6,000 ESPN employees who have their ear to the ground and adopt new devices early. ESPN is committed to pedaling as fast as they can to serve fans across the globe in all manners. “Technology keeps us on our toes,” concluded Bodenheimer.

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