Online, Mobile, Broadband, Audio & Games Reach Record Levels
Year after year, ESPN continues to break new records across all digital platforms, and in 2010, ESPN Digital Media logged its most trafficked year to date. Additionally, major distribution deals and product launches over the past year have bolstered ESPN.com, ESPN3.com, ESPN Mobile, Digital Audio, Fantasy, Games and more to all-time highs in usage.
“2010 was a breakout year for sports in Digital Media,” said John Kosner, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Digital Media. “ESPN’s ability to surprise, excite and engage sports fans in real-time on the best available screen is unmatched, and the relentless innovative thinking that drives our products truly hit home with the World Cup and multiple other events around the world this past year. It is breathtaking to be a part of it all.”
ESPN.com finished 2010 with a bang. The site led the category in average minute audience with 77,000 and claimed a category share of 29.0% in December. Furthermore, ESPN.com led the category in average minute audience and category share of audience in 10 out of 12 months in 2010. ESPN.com also set a sports category record in total minutes (4.3 billion) and average minute audience (100,000) in November while setting a personal best in unique visitors with over 43 million.
In terms of yearly performance, ESPN.com’s average monthly unique visitors were up 17%, while total minutes were up 38%. ESPN outpaced the category in both metrics (up 9% in uniques and 12% in minutes) according to comScore (panel-only data). The site captured a 27.6% category share of minutes spent with sports sites online, up from 24.6% in 2009. Additionally, ESPN Search usage on the site was also up 10% for the year (source: Omniture). Additionally, natural search referrals were up 35% for ESPN.com and up 108% for ESPNdeportes.com.
With the launch of ESPNNewYork.com in April, ESPN Local’s five sites (including ESPNChicago.com, ESPNDallas.com, ESPNBoston.com and ESPNLosAngeles.com) maintained their positions amongst the top local sports sites in their respective markets. Collectively, they’ve averaged almost 8.8 million unique visitors and 73.8 million total minutes per month since ESPN implemented comScore’s Unified tracking methodology in September.
ESPN.com also continues to be a leader in online video. ESPN.com visitors watched nearly 1.4 billion videos in 2010 or nearly 115 million streams a month according to Adobe. Hundreds of thousands of fans tuned in each week for original digital studio shows Fantasy Football Now and MMA Live, both incubated online and now available via simulcast on ESPN2. Returning favorites like Inside Deal and Mayne Street continued to serve fans online, while the local sites rolled out their own original digital series including the Pretty Good Sports Show on ESPNNewYork.com.
ESPN Insider reached an all-time high milestone in 2010, surpassing half a million subscribers and now amongst the most successful paid content services online. Additionally, subscribers were up 23%, its largest net subscriber growth in the history of the product.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup proved to be the biggest event ever for ESPN3.com, highlighting a breakout year. Renaming it from ESPN360.com in April marked the beginning of a new evolution for the 24/7 broadband sports network, with average monthly unique viewers and total hours consumed up 150% and 180% respectively over 2009, according to Omniture. It is now distributed in more than 65 million households nationwide, including major distribution agreements with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. In total, ESPN3.com delivered close to 4,300 live events in 2010.
ESPN3.com hit a number of milestones throughout the year, including its largest average audience ever with the Spain-Germany World Cup semifinal match, watched by 355,000 viewers per minute. In total, the World Cup was viewed by 7.4 million unique viewers and generated more than two hours of viewer per unique viewer, an average of 114,000 viewers per minute.
With additional live coverage of MLS matches, the top five Euro leagues and more, ESPN3.com has become a staple network for fans of international soccer. Matches from the Barclays Premier League averaged over 16,000 total hours of viewing per game this season, the most of any other soccer league on ESPN3.com, while La Liga’s El Clasico match between Real Madrid vs. Barcelona was the most watched non-World Cup soccer match in the history of ESPN3.com, delivering over 172,000 unique viewers and logging nearly 140,000 total hours of viewing to the English and Spanish feeds combined.
- Total hours consumed for regular season college basketball was up over 266% YOY;
- The 2010 NBA Playoffs and NBA Draft were up 101% in hours consumed and 253% in unique viewers respectively compared to 2009;
- Event plays for the three-day coverage of the Masters on ESPN3.com (including the Par 3 Contest and SportsCenter at the Masters on Wednesday) were up 505% from 2009;
- Over 1 million unique viewers watched Wimbledon for over 1 million hours consumed;
- Regular season college football delivered over 6.2 million unique viewers and logged over 9.6 total hours consumed in 2010 (up 42%).
Once again, ESPN maintained its position as the leading mobile Web sports site and the 8th most-trafficked site on the mobile Web overall in 2010. It reached more than two-thirds of the users seeking sports on the mobile Web and averaged 12.4 million unique visitors a month, up 37% (source: Nielsen Mobile, Jan-Nov 2010). ESPN’s international mobile Web sites also saw triple digit percentage growths, with ESPNsoccernet Mobile visits and page views up 163% and 168%, while ESPNcricinfo Mobile was up 359% and 503% in visits and page views.
Additionally, ESPN’s mobile applications across all devices generated an average 4.5 million unique visitors per month (source: Omniture). The original ScoreCenter app for iPhone and Android reached 10 million and 3 million downloads respectively since launch, while the World Cup app was downloaded more than 2.5 million times and averaged one million users accessing it per day during the tournament. Other app highlights:
- The ESPN Radio app, with versions for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, was consistently one of the top paid sports apps since their launches;
- Downloads of the Fantasy Football app (for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry) were up 200% YOY and in September generated 6 million visits and 50 million page views;
- iPad apps – including ScoreCenter XL, ESPN Pinball, ESPN iScore Baseball, ESPN Map Madness and ESPN The Magazine – generated more than 750,000 downloads;
- ESPN Local (Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York for iPhone launched in May) and ESPN Passport for iPhone – ESPN’s first location-based app – launched in August collectively generated more than a quarter million downloads.
Due in large part to the launch of push notifications through the iPhone ScoreCenter app, ESPN Mobile delivered nearly 3.5 billion alerts to fans, up nearly 300% from 2009. Sign-ups to receive alerts were also up 350%, with an 18% increase in average alerts per fan.
Additionally, over 950 live events were delivered via ESPN Mobile TV, including all 64 World Cup matches live, which reached 1 million unique viewers during the event and registered 93 million total minutes of viewing, setting viewership records on major mobile TV platforms MobiTV and FLO TV (source: MobiTV, FLO TV, Verizon V CAST). The mobile TV network also extended its distribution to Sprint TV subscribers in 2010.
ESPNRadio.com remained on top as the most listened to live stream of any terrestrial broadcaster in the world – reaching more than one million unique listeners per month, more than double what it was the previous year (source: Ando Media). It was also the largest, most listened to talk format stream, both terrestrially and via Internet-only streaming, generating nearly 10 million total sessions per month, up 33%. Additionally, the U.S. vs. Algeria match of the World Cup gave ESPNRadio.com the largest concurrent audience ever to a single audio stream worldwide, peaking at 186,000 listeners, 6% of which came through via the ESPN Radio app for iPhone and iPod touch.
ESPN Podcasts also recorded a year-to-year increase of more than 23% (reaching 156 million downloads through ESPN PodCenter and iTunes), including The BS Report with Bill Simmons, which logged more than 42 million downloads in 2010.
ESPN Fantasy & Games
ESPN penetrated the gaming space to new levels in 2010, signing a major distribution deal with Microsoft to deliver ESPN on Xbox LIVE, with live events from ESPN3.com, video on demand clips from ESPN.com and more to the Xbox LIVE platform on Xbox 360 consoles. Additionally, ESPN collaborated with Playdom — a leading developer of social games – which marked ESPN’s debut in the social gaming space. It launched its first title, ESPNU College Town, to Facebook users in September. ESPN.com’s casual games destination, ESPN Arcade, also reached new highs in 2010, with average daily unique visitors up 64% and visits up 63%, according to Adobe.
ESPN’s long-standing relationship with EA continued as well, with deeper brand integrations into titles such as EA NCAA Basketball 10 and EA NCAA Football 11. The Emmy award-winning EA Virtual Playbook also extended to the World Cup 2010. And during the 2010 World Series, ESPN Baseball Tonight introduced new in-studio technology for Virtual Pitch developed in collaboration with Sony and their MLB The Show title for PlayStation 3 consoles. The technology, which will be featured in the upcoming 2011 season, creates an interactive environment where analysts break down pitchers and delivery, show the perspective of the batter, what to look for and more.
Fantasy continues to grow, as more fans spent more time with ESPN Fantasy than ever before. Overall, total registered players were up 17%, with the popular ESPN Fantasy Football up 19% in registered users, ESPN NBA.com Fantasy Basketball up 28%, Fantasy Baseball and Men’s Tournament Challenge both up 8% and Fantasy Hockey up 42%. Additionally, three World Cup Fantasy games (Bracket Predictor, Soccer Pick ‘Em and Knockout Bracket) collectively generated over 927,000 unique users.
Now in its third year, Streak For The Cash presented by Progressive, a free daily pick ‘em game rewarding cash prizes to players who build the longest streak of correct sports-related picks, featured nearly 3.3 million players in 2010. In total, players generated more than 147.5 million total picks for the year.