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Short #2 | ESPN as đŸ“Č Digital Consumer Gateway for Fans, or just another TV Guide by a Publisher?

Editor's Note: This short-form article has first been published on Twitter (đŸ‘‰đŸŒ Short #2), where I started to play around with Twitter Blue's extended 4,000-character-post feature. For me, it still requires cutting some corners on the grammar and style, but it is fun and can be written off the top of my head without much or any research, and allows for at least some more context than the "hot-taky" 280-character tweets. With those limitations for "OFFTHEFIELDBUSINESS - Shorts" in mind, readers are getting a two-minute read, instead of the in-depth, super-long blog articles that have become the standard on over the past years.

📰 Quote-tweeted story: ESPN wants to be the hub of all live sports streaming. even if it helps its competition (via CNBC)

🔱 Count: 409 words ... 1.5 minutes.


There were a lot of stories about #ESPN getting into the video aggregation business, aspiring to become the digital consumer gateway (for sports fans). However, I don’t think that this is about an ESPN-operated #channel #store #marketplace, which retails third-party video subscriptions. It might not even be about #authenticated #streaming, or has much to do with ESPN the “broadcaster” in the first place.

Instead, it’s a digital “publisher” seeking to incrementally monetize the most-trafficked sports website in the United States (100M+ unique visitors in 2022) and a highly addressable, built-in app audience in times of increased bottom-line pressure amidst a changed interest rate and macroeconomic environment. To this end, the worldwide leader in sports intends to benefit from the value attributed to consumer access and #content #discovery #navigation that has never been greater as today:

đŸ€‘ Since sports (or any other) streamers are always looking for more cost-efficient #customer #acquisition in a competitive direct-to-consumer economy, many publishers are already running such TV Guide feature, combining user value ( 🔎 content discovery) with incremental monetization potential ( 💾 affiliate traffic), either on a cost-per-click (CPC) or -acquisition (CPA) basis.

📣 That ESPN is currently only promoting access to own #licensed #content (accessible either via 🟹 ESPN+ or 🟩 third-party MVPD) isn’t right either: It facilitates (to add value to the user experience) but doesn’t commercialize (via trackable outlink for lead generation) #third #party #content discovery (available off-platform on đŸ”Č CBS Sports Network).

🌍 Accessing the ESPN App from Germany also highlights that its current content discovery isn’t even geo-localized as per the user's access point right now: #NCAAM Men’s Basketball is running on #DAZN #Sport1US and #ESPNPlayer here instead of ACCN, ESPN+, or CBSSN — it’s a global affiliate marketing opportunity (if a critical mass of audiences has been accumulated) and low-hanging fruit for the international #ESPNPlayer, in particular, to attract incremental audiences.

đŸ€·đŸŒâ€â™‚ïž After all, this “ESPN Live Sports Hub” might rather be a post-cable #EPG without the P(rogramming) than what turns around the business fortune of the worldwide leader in sports.

🧭 Customer #transaction, #consumption and #engagement for third-party content will be off-platform, adding #friction instead of #compression along the conversion funnel. But by merely better navigating a fractured digital (sports) video landscape through information aggregation, even an [E]lectronic [G]uide has value 
 it might not be that big or new of a deal though.

It’s an evolution 📈 , not a revolution 🚀, of #ESPN’s digital publishing business.


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