Newly Re-Designed ESPN.com Launches
2008 a Record Year for ESPN Digital Media – Online, Mobile, Broadband, Audio & Games
Today ESPN officially launched the newly redesigned ESPN.com (www.espn.com). The new site — which was in a public beta testing period for the second half of December, and in a private test phase for ESPN Insider subscribers prior to that — officially replaces the previous site design and architecture today. Since the closing of the beta test phase on December 30, ESPN Digital Media has worked to integrate adjustments and additions based upon the testing period and input from the site’s millions of daily visitors.
The new site features cleaner, simpler design and navigation, a richer video experience throughout the site, full integration of ESPN Sports Search, enhanced Scoreboards and myESPN personalization, added advertising integration and flexibility, new sections and will provide a foundation for greater integration with other ESPN media platforms in the year ahead.
For images of the new site and further details on new features, sections and more, click here.
The launch of the redesigned ESPN.com marks the start of the next phase in the site’s continued evolution, and comes just after it closed a record-setting 2008. More people spent more time on ESPN.com than ever before in 2008. In fact, across all platforms – online, mobile, broadband, online games, digital audio and more — ESPN Digital Media set new records in 2008 across.
ESPN DIGITAL MEDIA IN 2008
In the U.S., ESPN aggressively expanded its long-established digital sports leadership with a landmark extension of its agreement with Major League Baseball Advanced Media featuring increased rights. In addition, video, community, fantasy games and mobile platforms were expanded to reach record numbers of fans in creative ways.
More fans spent more time on ESPN.com than ever before in 2008, according to both leading third-party Web measurement firms. According to Nielsen NetRatings, Total Minutes spent per month on the site were up 32 percent to over 839 million, and unique users per month were up more than 16 percent to 20 million. According to comScore Media Metrix, Total Minutes spent per month on the site were up 25 percent to 1.1 billion, and unique users per month were up more than 8 percent to nearly 21 million.
As online video continued to grow in popularity, ESPN.com has distinguished itself as the destination for sports video. The site has averaged more than 119 million video streams per month and has logged almost 50 percent of the total minutes for the entire sports category in 2008, more than 3 times the nearest competitor. Among the extensive library of video content, the site launched the popular Digital Original series Mayne Street starring Kenny Mayne, brought back the popular weekly live program Fantasy Football Now (Sundays) and added the weekly original program MMA Live. ESPN Digital Media also recorded a clean sweep of all three broadband categories in the Sports Emmy Awards this year, bringing its total tally of Emmy’s to five, with nine nominations, in just three years since the awards were introduced.
ESPN.com also continued to grow its reach internationally, by acquiring Racing-Live.com, a leading motorsports site, which joins the stable of leading International sites now part of the ESPN.com network of sites – including ESPNSoccernet.com, Cricinfo.com, ESPNdeportes.com and ESPNScrum.com.
ESPN Mobile Properties
ESPN’s Mobile Properties – including the industry-leading Mobile Web site, ESPN MVP on Verizon Wireless and ESPN Mobile TV – expanded upon the leadership position the company has established in the fast-emerging mobile content space.
ESPN was the 7th most-trafficked site on the mobile web in 2008, averaging nearly 6.7 million unique users per month (Jan – Nov), a 33 percent growth over the same period a year ago. ESPN was overwhelmingly the top site in the sports category – averaging a 65 percent market share of unique visitors and delivering more than three times the audience of the nearest competitor. It logged five record months in terms of traffic, including its biggest month ever (November) with 8.3 million unique users. (source: Nielsen Mobile)
Additionally, ESPN Mobile Properties delivers an average of 50 million mobile alerts per month to mobile devices (scores, news, information, etc.).
Use of ESPN on-demand mobile video also continued to grow, with more than 100 original pieces of video being cut each day and delivered to fans on many carriers. ESPN video viewership on iPhones has been growing at an average rate of 190 percent per month and ESPN Deportes video consumption increased by more than 50 percent in 2008.
ESPN Mobile TV, the 24/7 mobile sports television network available on the MediaFlo and MobiTV platforms, delivered nearly 1000 live events in 2008. The mobile TV network logged its most viewed day ever on Monday, June 17, the day that it streamed live coverage of the Tiger Woods – Rocco Mediate 18-hole playoff at the U.S. Open.
ESPN360.com continued its growth as ESPN’s broadband sports television network and delivered more than 3,000 live, global sports events in its first full year. Its distribution grew to more than 24 million homes, up 40 percent year-to-year and more than triple its distribution just 2 years ago. Viewers to the service grew by 297 percent compared to the previous year, and they logged more than 8 million viewing hours. Additionally, more than 40 programming deals were completed in 2008 that were either for or included ESPN360.com programming, adding or extending deals for MLB, SEC football and basketball, US Open tennis, The Masters, Football League and Carling Cup soccer, Serie A soccer, Asia Cup Cricket, Rugby League World Cup and many more. In 2008 it was also made available at no cost to approximately 18 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks (those with “.edu” and “.mil” domains). Driven by passionate fans and the demand for live programming, ESPN360.com:
- Had its biggest month ever in June with 3 million video streams with an average time viewing that exceeds three hours (5x the industry average);
- In October launched in Great Britain, with free news, highlights, analysis and interviews from the NHL, MLB, NFL, golf, tennis and X Games, along with subscription packages for live event viewing.
ESPN Digital Audio
2008 was a year of growth and expansion for ESPN Digital Audio. Over the course of the year, ESPN Radio listeners (including webcam “watchers”) consumed an estimated 100 million hours of streaming radio and podcast content, according to Ando Media Web Metrics.
ESPNRadio.com unique visitors were up 20% respectively from 20071. Each month, more than one quarter million listeners tune into ESPNRadio.com’s live online radio/video stream, including a record high of 347,000 in October 2008. Total listening hours (TLH) for ESPNRadio.com’s live stream grew to an average of 4.1 million per month, while average monthly cumulative audience (CUME) grew 7 percent to more than 278,000.2**
ESPN podcasts continued to see record growth in 2008 with a year-to-year increase of more than 66 percent (topping more than 8.8 million downloads** in October through ESPN Podcenter and iTunes). ESPN also launched additional video podcasts in 2008, including the ESPN Original Digital hit Mayne Street and has seen a 500% increase in video downloads.**
Building on the 2007 launch of ESPN’s five owned stations web sites (New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Pittsburgh), in June ESPN announced the creation of a Digital Radio Affiliate Network. In September, ESPN 980 (www.espn980.com) in Washington DC was the first site to launch from the Network, and fifteen sites are scheduled to follow into 2009. This focus on increased localization and national integration of content led to a:
- 20 percent growth in local site page views year-to-year1;
- 55 percent increase in unique users to local sites1;
- 260 percent increase in local digital ad sales for the stations.
1 Uniques/Pages are based on Omniture analytics
2 TLH and CUME stats available Jan – Dec. 2008. Comparisons based on Jan – Dec., 2007 compared to previous year.
** Streaming, Podcasting # are based on AndoMedia’s Web Metrics)
ESPN Fantasy Sports and Casual Online Games
ESPN Fantasy Games continued its growth in 2008, averaging 2.7 million unique users per month, up 6 percent from last year, according to comScore. Additionally, total minutes are up 3 percent from last year to 164.6 million minutes. Participation in ESPN Fantasy Football grew 30% year-over-year (66% growth since 2006) and ESPN Fantasy Baseball grew 33% this season (12X growth since launching a free league manager game in 2006). Additionally, the site launched free “league manager”-style versions of ESPN Fantasy Basketball and ESPN Fantasy Hockey games, leading to 11X growth and 10X growth in participation, respectively. The ESPN Men’s NCAA Tournament Challenge was also ranked #1 amongst its competitors in 2008. Nearly 3.2 million brackets were filled out, up 8 percent since 2007 and over 3.6 million entries were received, up 10 percent since last year — both setting industry-high records.
In late August, Fantasy Games launched Streak For The Cash presented by Progressive, a daily Pick’em game that offered a $1 million prize to a player that could make 25 correct sports-related picks in a row. In just four months, the game drew nearly 1.3 million entries and over 27 million picks.
ESPN Arcade scored impressive numbers this past year as well. The site has grown its library of free, online casual games since it launched in June 2007 to 75 games in 2008. From April to October, Nielsen reported that ESPN Arcade logged in an average of 3.7 million page views and 3.4 million game plays per month. Average monthly user session duration in the same time period was approximately 15 minutes. October recorded its best month of the year, with more than 5.7 million page views and over 756,000 unique visitors. Other highlights include:
- Attracted a younger audience (31% more 18-34 males) and 22% more women relative to ESPN.com, according to Media Metrix;
- ESPN Cameraman on the Apple iPhone had more than 1 million unique downloads since its launch in October, and peaked at #4 in the iTunes App Store.