Upfronts: Live sports brand awareness, watch out, ESPN tells advertisers

Rita Ferro, president of advertising sales for the Walt Disney Co., said sports is “unifying,” connecting consumers and brands through live events, games and ancillary programs across all platforms.

Speaking at a virtual ESPN Sports Summit on April 6, Ferro said the programmer’s “Always On” strategy brings people of all genders, races and age groups together, through his live sports coverage. live, highlights, analysis, interviews, debates, predictions and original content.

Sport offers brands a more than 40% increase in key advertising metrics such as familiarity, recall and recommendations, she said. Fandom crosses demos and age with enthusiasts ranging from 8 to 80 years old, with more than 40% of Gen Z indicating that they follow the sport closely.

TV streaming is just the tip of the iceberg, says executive, pointing to content on video-on-demand platforms, websites, social platforms, fantasy leagues, podcasts and more via ESPN (US), ABC (US), Hulu LLC and ESPN+. She noted that 75% of sports fans believe streaming makes sports better, giving them access to more content and athletes on a myriad of devices.

Company executives noted that ESPN generates 430 million social impressions a day through its own outlets and by working with third parties. The presentation included images of such content with talent talking about brand ties: “The Kickoff” featuring Dodge Ram trucks, “Happy Stream” featuring Doordash, and “Playoff Tailgate” featuring Pizza Hut.

Jimmy Pitaro, president of ESPN Inc. and sports content, noted that the flagship network had a strong first quarter with overall viewership ahead 40% in prime time and 32% in total daytime compared to the corresponding period in 2021. The studio’s rate, including “SportsCenter,” increased its viewership during the period.

Three-quarters of Americans, or about 175 million, Watch college and professional football, each logging an average of 50 hours per season. ESPN and ABC networks reach 75% of this group.

That group includes 100 million people who tune in to ESPN’s extensive coverage of the college football season kickoff on Labor Day weekend.

“Monday Night Football” had its most-watched season since 2010. Additionally, Monday Night’s first-ever Wild Card playoff game between the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals now ranks as the most-watched game since ESPN supplanted ABC as franchise rights. -holder in 2006.

Marketers who invest in “MNF” programs, the presenters said, can benefit from improved metrics, as top property advertisers saw 66%, 48% and 37% gains in awareness, respectively. of consideration and attention compared to non-football viewers.

The company trumpeted the recently completed cross-platform coverage of the women’s version of the March Madness college basketball tournament, which saw a 16% increase in average game viewership. ESPN expects better deliveries for its WNBA playoff presentation as the professional basketball league adds games to its playoff format.

In all, ESPN’s various platforms will feature 26,000 hours of live coverage of women’s sporting events this year. The composition of women’s sports audiences: 53% men and 47% women, many of whomD 18 to 34.

The presentation comes as ESPN saw its universe of subscribers dwindle amid the cord cut. The flagship network’s subscribers are expected to drop to 70.0 million in 2022 from 85.9 million in 2018, according to data from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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