Weeks after ESPN’s 100-person layoff, ESPN has unveiled its new programming slate, chock full of big personalities and short on the highlight shows that were previously the foundation of the network.
ESPN is now competing with heavy hitters like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter for attention. The marketplace is offering statistics and highlights at the click of a button. Many companies like Amazon and Twitter offer high-speed, live streaming games, too. With video becoming more easily available in the palm of your hand, the days of traditional TV highlight shows like “Sports Center” could be fading.
ESPN is betting on its influential talent personalities like Mike Greenburg, Sage Steele, and Hannah Storm to help them transform along with the new media landscape. It’s a strategy not without merit, particularly with digital audiences gaining an enormous amount of power in the last few years.
With this newfound power, consumers are calling for more authenticity from brands. Olipic reports that “modern consumers expect authentic brand relationships, and therefore value the input of influencers that they trust over celebrities that have a perceived monetary relationship to promote products and brands.” This is why brand endorsements from Kim Kardashian West and Kendell Jenner produce tangible results to a corporate bottom line.
ESPN’s situation is a common concern for cable television these days. According to the New York Times, traditional cable and satellite providers are currently losing about 732,000 subscribers, as compared with a loss of 102,000 in the same period last year.
Still, ESPN has seen an impressive increase in its mobile app audience lately. Its monthly audience is at about 23 million unique users. The channel also saw an impressive 15-percent spike in prime time audience in the first quarter, and its digital products have reached more than 100 million people. What these numbers suggest is that ESPN could capitalize on digital successes—with a bit of reworking.
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