The largest sports network in the world made its upfront presentation to media buyers this month. Days after rumors surfaced that FOX may launch a national cable sports network in the near future, ESPN unveiled a slew of fresh opportunities for the future. New campaigns with Twitter as well as integrations with Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Netflix and Microsoft will be launched in efforts to further entrench the brand in the minds of sports fans at all points of media consumption. Ed Erhardt, the company’s President of Customer Marketing and Sales, predicted that sports will be the most bought segment at this year’s upfront.
As large networks continue to fight for this very engaged consumer, ESPN embarks on initiatives to harness its enormous reach so that advertisers can gain access to their audience on all screens. “We have massive scale, but that doesn’t mean we don’t target a specific consumer,” said Eric Johnson, ESPN’s Vice President of Multimedia Sales. In perhaps the most interesting iteration of their capabilities at the upfront, ESPN presented a case study involving their work with Gatorade. Partnering across multiple screens with the network, Gatorade aimed at embracing the female athlete and mother. Their main endeavor was support of “Nine for IX,” a short, nine documentary series ESPN created about women in sports in conjunction with the 40-year anniversary of Title IX.
In working with its clients, ESPN capitalizes on capabilities to target niche areas of its audience. Gatorade is able to focus its message out to the rising number of active women who are using its product on a consistent basis and make them feel important, set in the perfect brand/content fit. Media capabilities like these will allow brands to target groups of consumers differently, based on their behaviors and interests, rather than sending one broad and often vague broadcast advertising message. Engaging with your consumer on a micro-level becomes vitally important as competitive brands come into the market landscape. Just ask ESPN, they know a thing or two about that.