February 6, 2013
ESPN Marketing Exec Talks TV Everywhere
By Kaylee Hultgren
Consumers’ knowledge of TV Everywhere is not where the industry wants it to be. But one major player in the space is looking to change that. This week ESPN began a brand campaign for its TVE product WatchESPN called “The Clutch Way to Watch,” starting with two animated spots featuring a couple of super sports fans hoping to watch games on the go.
As its name suggests the spot “What is WatchESPN
” serves as an explainer of sorts, and “Clutch in the Office
” does the same, with an added pitch for stymieing office boredom. Further into the campaign users will have a chance to take part by sharing their own “clutch” moments while watching ESPN. We spoke to Adriana Rizzo, Senior Director of Consumer Marketing for ESPN, about the campaign and the state of TV Everywhere marketing today.
For the spots you went with the creative team of James Blagden and Chris Isenberg of artist collective “No Mas.” What made you want to work with them and in this style?
We worked with 72andSunny on the campaign and tasked them with coming up with a fresh and ownable idea that had to be very flexible, [while] allowing us to explain the product, be relevant across the sports calendar and really resonate with our fans. They came back to us with the idea of showing and highlighting “clutch moments in watching sports.” [It’s a] concept that WatchESPN really lives into because it allows you to watch sports live regardless of where you are. And being clutch in sports is something that every fan understands and relates to.
From that strategy came the concept of using two animated characters that represent the everyday “superfan.” 72andSunny brought No Mas on board to bring these characters to life. We’ve worked with No Mas in the past with 30 for 30 and Grantland and they’re super sports fans. We saw the potential to be different and fun while also having the flexibility to do what we needed.
How will the campaign specifically involve ESPN “superfans,” and how does this user-generated content factor into your overall marketing strategy?
We’re in the early stages and still defining it, but this campaign has a tremendous amount of resonance and power in the social and digital space. Steve and Vic represent the everyfan, and plenty of real fans can relate to these two guys who’ve done all sorts of things to watch their favorite teams play. We want to tap into that passion and showcase it on social platforms. More details are coming soon on what exactly the execution will be.
What would you say is the greatest challenge when it comes to spreading awareness of TV Everywhere? In your research and discussions with viewers, what have they said about the authentication process? Is consumer awareness at least improving?
I can’t speak to the specifics on improvements, but it’s fair to say that the market can be a bit confusing to fans and viewers. This is partly due to all the different versions of TV Everywhere. This campaign is an extension of the strategy we’ve employed since launching WatchESPN: generate awareness of WatchESPN while educating our fans about how to get it, what programming can be accessed on it, which platforms can it be accessed from, and so on.
What are your distribution goals for WatchESPN, currently and in the coming years?
Our goal is to serve fans wherever and whenever they consume content, and for the past 2+ years, we’ve delivered on that promise by signing seven top-10 distributor agreements that included live access to ESPN networks through WatchESPN via an affiliated video subscription. Platforms that deliver access to WatchESPN now include computers, smartphones, tablets and ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members. The app has been downloaded more than 16 million times since launch, while distribution has increased to 46 million households nationwide. We aim to continue that momentum in the coming years.