PodCenter will also relaunch Monday with updated content on ESPN.com and its extension on iTunes, including "Off Mikes," a series of downloadable animated shorts spun off from "Mike & Mike in the Morning," a talk show, and a podcast led by former NFL coach Bill Parcells, former all-pro wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and "NFL Insider" Chris Mortensen.
5 million downloads
Having just launched PodCenter in April 2006, ESPN currently reaches more than 1 million unique visitors a month with an average of 4 million to 5 million monthly downloads for the podcasts. Marc Horine, ESPN's VP-digital partnerships and radio, said exclusive content for iPhone users is also in the works.
Mr. Horine said there are currently about 20 sponsors for the 35 podcasts, with a variety of different ad models. PodCenter offers up the traditional presenting sponsorship, as well as options for 15-second pre-roll ads and 30-second post-roll brand-sell spots. Unique to the iPhone will be the ability to display the advetiser's logo during its audio ads on the high-def iPhone screen. Mr. Horine cited Baby Ruth candy bars' post-roll ads for "Baseball Today" and Hummer's sponsorship of "Off Mikes" as early examples of its new iPhone-enabled abilities.
ESPN Mobile continues to deliver breaking updates and scores to subscribers' phones, but Mr. Horine said he is working with his partners at Verizon to expand the content there as well. "It's not as easy to deliver podcasts through mobile devices right now," he said. "IPhone allows us because the Safari internet browser takes you to the special player. Most [phones] don't have the functionality the iPhone has."
Additionally, ESPN Radio is carried on 650 stations nationally, with ESPN owning stations in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Pittsburgh. Mr. Horine said ad deals can be bundled to include all audio properties -- PodCenter, ESPN Radio -- in addition to on-air.
"We're constantly trying to innovate building applications to better serve sports fans, and the iPhone player was developed to make it better to consume content," he said. "What's great about the [PodCenter] player is it's now wherever you are."