The cable sports network giant rolled out its Mobile ESPN service on Super Bowl Sunday, and provides content ranging from real-time scores to highlights and clips from "SportsCenter" that cellphone users can access 24/7 worldwide.
Sports fanatics aren't the only ones in love with this service. "Advertisers have really responded positively to our new mobile vehicle," said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN ABC Sports sales and marketing. "It's just one more rich and in-demand environment to tap into our very desirable audience."
On the b-to-b side, "SportsCenter" reaches a very upscale, affluent corporate viewership, including "a higher concentration of C-suite executives than any other sports program," Erhardt said. "Our advertisers-more than 1,000 of them in all-view the program as a very efficient and impactful way to reach this audience."
These advertisers include many of the usual suspects-FedEx Corp., United Parcel Service of America and Microsoft Corp., for example. "We do business with just about all the major b-to-b players," Erhardt said.
But "SportsCenter" has seen an uptick in interest from marketers in the financial and insurance verticals, including Merrill Lynch & Co., Franklin Templeton Investments and Pacific Life Insurance Co. "Those markets are really booming now, and we've drawn considerable interest from them," Erhardt said.
One of the major draws of "SportsCenter," which attracts more than 88 million people each month-is that it's much more than just stats and talking heads, Erhardt said. "For viewers and advertisers alike, `SportsCenter' is the show of record for sports,' " he said. "And it provides in-depth interviews and expert analysis that true fans want in just an hour. Business executives want to keep up with their favorite teams and breaking sports news, but they don't have a lot of time to devote to it."
Erhardt sees a trend wherein many viewers are moving from the late-night broadcasts to the early morning ones. "Our viewership in the mornings continues to grow steadily," he said. "It's a phenomenon where fathers and sons, or the whole family, watch it together as they get themselves ready for work and school in the morning."
Another draw of "SportsCenter" is the show's talent, especially anchors such as Dan Patrick and Stuart Scott. "What ESPN has done is take this talent and spread it across all of our media vehicles," Erhardt said. "Dan Patrick not only is our main `SportsCenter' anchor but he also has his own radio show, writes articles for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, and is now replayed on Mobile ESPN."
Such cross-channel ingenuity has also been integrated into the way ESPN ABC Sports works with advertisers. "We have a media-agnostic, team-centered approach now," Erhardt said. "All of our executives are trained to sell each aspect of our different media platforms, and they know how to give advertisers the best bang for their buck with multichannel buys."