Contributors across ESPNFC include Steve Nicol, Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan and Gabriele Marcotti
Comprehensive club blogger network and new regional correspondents keep fans in the know
ESPN, Inc. today announces the full launch of its multi-platform, multi-language and multi-country global soccer brand, ESPNFC. Initially launched as a preview in April for the 2012 UEFA European Football ChampionshipTM, ESPNFC officially debuts today in conjunction with the start of the new soccer seasons and international friendlies around the world, including the USA vs. Mexico match live tonight at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN3. Additionally with today’s official launch, the newly rebranded ESPNFC Press Pass will make its U.S. television debut tonight at 2 a.m. ET on ESPNEWS.
Arne Rees, vice president of international digital media for ESPN International: said: “ESPN is making a big statement with today’s launch of ESPNFC. We are committed to the number one global sport by dedicating one global, cross-platform brand to cover it 24/7. ESPNFC aims to serve fans by being the leading destination for definitive soccer coverage worldwide and year-round whenever and wherever fans want it.”
ESPNFC Press Pass
Tonight’s telecast of ESPNFC Press Pass marks ESPN’s first daily soccer studio program on U.S. television. It is also the first ESPN studio show initially created for a global audience that premieres in the U.S. on the strength of its popularity outside the country. The show focuses specifically on global soccer news, debate and punditry and features panelists from around the world of soccer, including Frank Leboeuf, Tommy Smyth, Shaka Hislop, Janusz Michallik, Steve Nicol and many others. Reflecting the cross-platform nature of ESPNFC, both TV and digital content will be heavily integrated to highlight major club news and analysis across all screens.
Press Pass first debuted in September 2002 on ESPN International’s English-speaking networks. It can now be seen in over 107 countries and territories around the world. Prior to tonight’s television debut, Press Pass was only available to fans on ESPNsoccernet.com in the U.S., where average video views per month during the 2011-12 season were up more than 2.5 times that of the previous season (158 percent). The show can now be seen six days a week (weekdays plus Sundays) on ESPNEWS.
ESPNFC organizes a developing worldwide network of writers, bloggers and analysts covering the latest news and developments 24/7, regardless of where they happen in the world. Each Barclays Premier League club and each of mainland Europe’s leading club sides will in time have a specific blogger on ESPNFC, connecting ESPNFC readers with the latest views and insights from their club. ESPNFC is also developing a network of regional correspondents who will cover the latest news and stories from key soccer regions, including Spain, Italy and the regional hot-beds of English soccer such as Manchester and London. Furthermore, fans can access a line-up of new, big name writers across multiple platforms. They include:
- Glenn Hoddle – former England national team manager, Hoddle will be contributor online and on mobile.
- Kevin Keegan – will contribute a column online and on mobile. The former Newcastle United, Fulham, Manchester City and England manager won a host of honors playing for the likes of Liverpool and Hamburg.
- Steve Nicol – existing contributor on TV for Press Pass, the former Liverpool player, Scotland international and New England Revolution manager will additionally contribute regularly to ESPNFC online and on mobile.
- Gabriele Marcotti – based in London, renowned international soccer journalist and expert on Italian, Spanish and English soccer will write several times a week for ESPNFC and appear regularly on Press Pass.
- Roger Bennett – a columnist for ESPNFC and podcast co-host of Men in Blazers for the Grantland Network, Bennett will be covering the international game, with a focus on the Barclays Premier League.
Across Digital Platforms
As part of the full launch, ESPNFC succeeds ESPNsoccernet as the sports media company’s global soccer brand, bringing together all of ESPN’s soccer properties and housing them under one universally recognized name. ESPNFC will also be integrated into ESPNdeportes.com, which serves the US Hispanic community, as well as Spanish-speaking Latin America. Online and on mobile, ESPNFC will have the ability to detect where a fan is accessing content, and deliver locally relevant coverage for that region. At launch, ESPNFC will launch in English and Spanish and will evolve over time to serve multiple languages. Additionally, ESPNFC provides unique, customizable digital opportunities for marketers who can work with ESPN to reach sports fans on both a global and regional scale using ESPN’s worldwide sales teams.
Comprehensive multimedia coverage from ESPNFC includes on-demand video highlights, studio programming clips, news, analysis and commentary, real-time scores, stats and more. With particular emphasis on the live game experience, Live MatchHQ – a re-imagined and enhanced version of GameCast – features live coverage from ESPN3 and WatchESPN accompanied by data-driven content, including real-time scores and stats, highlights, message boards and more, all in one place. For fans on the go, the new ESPNFC app – available on Apple, Windows Phone and Android handsets – includes personalization, allowing soccer fans to customize the app by their favourite leagues, teams and tournaments, and exclusive video and audio from ESPN’s various studio-based discussion and analysis shows.
During EURO 2012, ESPNFC generated significant traffic online and on mobile platforms. ESPNFC.com and ESPNsoccernet.com logged an average of 919,000 unique visitors and 12.7 million minutes per day during the tournament, up 35 percent and 205 percent respectively compared to EURO 2008. Additionally, ESPNFC, ESPNsoccernet and ESPNdeportes mobile Web sites as well as the ESPNsoccernet app for iPhone and Android generated 33.6 million total page views, up 494 percent. Live coverage of the tournament on ESPN3 and WatchESPN logged viewership growth across computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox, including:
- 450.5 million total live minutes across platforms, up 871 percent;
- 289,000 average unique viewers per match with an average minute audience of 96,102 across all platforms;
- Its most watched match of the tournament during the Portugal vs. Spain semifinal, logging 598,000 unique viewers, 43 million live minutes and an average minute audience of 231,000.