In 2020, ESPN plans to step up its game with regard to digital programming.
After renovating its 2,750-square-foot digital programming studio, ESPN plans to air more than 500 live original shows across its own digital properties as well as other popular platforms including YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook.
That will mark the third year of growth for digital programming at ESPN as the Worldwide Leader aired more than 400 digital shows in 2019, a vast increase from the 200 or so digital shows the network aired in 2018.
One of the major components of ESPN’s push to boost its digital programming was the network’s hiring of House of Highlights founder Omar Raja late last year.
House of Highlights, a Bleacher Report property, was targeted at viewers who are interested in sports culture just as much as they are in sports themselves and are more likely to watch digital content than tune into traditional TV. That’s a demographic ESPN wants to target more going forward.
“These shows are different than the shows we do on TV,” ESPN SVP of digital and social media content Ryan Spoon told Digiday. “If you think about what we did leading into college football, the social shows are often very relaxed. I put [an all-] capital ‘fun’ in front of the tone we want to see. They’re about driving interest and enjoyment around it.”
The more ESPN is able to grow its digital audience on third-party platforms, the more power network execs will have to pitch advertisers on their ability to reach people who might not be reached through traditional TV.
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