What’s taking preference now is to try to get as ubiquitous as possible. Program and design from the mobile standpoint first, then extrapolate what could be applied for the PC, television and print experience.
Michael Bayle, VP and general manager of ESPN Mobile. ESPN Deems Mobile First Screen.
In a keynote at MediaPost’s Mobile Insider Summit, Bayle said that users spent 45% more time with ESPN mobile content in 2011 than 2010, with 150,000 people using the networks mobile products at any one time.
One of Bayle’s initiatives since joining ESPN last fall has been to reduce its focus to a handful of apps from the scores of titles released in recent years. That means the strongest focus on apps would be dedicated to Sports Center, collegiate sports, sports fantasy leagues, ESPN the Magazine and international sports like soccer and cricket.
He noted that apps overall still account for the vast majority of the company’s mobile usage, although the embrace of HTML5 programming should swing the balance back in favor of the mobile Web in the coming years.
ESPN’s mobile strategy is seen in terms of “bridges,” connecting people to its broader digital offerings, TV and mobile commerce. Mobile is the gateway to other screens and media formats. It also embraces social properties, like Twitter and Facebook, to distribute content more widely and allow fans to connect around live sporting events and hometown teams.
When it comes to TV, part of the goal is to capitalize on two-screen viewing and the gradual shift toward interactive television. As an example, Bayle pointed to a new partnership the network unveiled today with Shazam that allows Winter X Games viewers on ESPN to use the Shazam smartphone app to access video highlights, photos and even music from the event.