ESPN

EMF, ESPN, Cumulus post gains in Triton's August Webcast Metrics ratings

Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 10:55am

Like the melting of the snow, the falling of the leaves, and "lambs and lions coming and going," Internet radio listening tends to slip in the warm weather months every year (see last month's ratings coverage here), and just as quickly start ramping back up as we near fall and then the holidays.

We'll likely see this trend soften as mobile and in-car become more typical listening methods, but even the mature broadcast radio medium generally sees its listeners looking to disconnect a little bit when on vacation or enjoying the outdoors.

Most every broadcaster and webcaster saw AAS (Average Active Sessions) improve in the just-released August Internet Audio Top 20 from Triton Digital. Non-commercial Christian broadcaster EMF's AAS grew 17% over July, while ESPN went up 13%, and Cumulus stations collectively added about four-thousand active sessions (in the Domestic Ranker, M-Su 6a-12M).

The rankings themselves remained mostly static. Pandora remains the monster of the industry, with an August AAS (1,282,444 U.S. only, M-Su 6a-12M) seven times that of the nearest competitor, Clear Channel (183,452). Pandora added 68-thousand average sessions over last month; its AAS is up 89% so far in 2012.

The distant-yet-solid second-place Clear Channel has actually more than doubled its AAS over the past 12 months (up 122%). We'll be looking for a bump following this weekend's iHeartRadio Music Festival in next month's report.

For months now, battling it out over slots 3, 4, and 5 have been Cumulus, CBS Radio, and Internet-only webcast service Slacker. (For perspective, the 46-48-thousand AAS each pulled in August is merely a quarter of Clear Channel's online figure.) Cumulus' (including the former Citadel stations) strong month was powered, it seems, by a remarkable 1.13 average time-spent-listening. That gave it the #3 slot over CBS and Slacker for the first time.

(The chart above shows the growth of Pandora, CBS, Clear Channel, the top 5 terrestrial radio groups and Slacker from September 2009 through August 2012. Note that Pandora's AAS numbers from December 2010 through mid-August 2011 were affected by the omission of tracking code in some of its mobile apps. Click to view in full size.)

The Triton Digital Webcast Metrics Top 20 Domestic M-Su 6a-12M ranking is below. Find out more from Triton Digital’s Webcast Metrics report here (PDF) and find our coverage of July 2012’s ratings here.

ESPN Audio, Pandora share 2012 "Best Overall" RAIN Award

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 1:30pm

Kurt HansonESPN Audio and Pandora were named dual winners of the "Best Overal Online Radio Service" in the 2012 RAIN Internet Radio Awards, announced today in Dallas. The awards, presented by a tuxedo-ed RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson, capped yesterday's successful RAIN Summit event.

Both services received perfect scores across the segment of our judges panel that reviewed them. It was Pandora's third consecutive "Best Overall" award, and one of two on the day for ESPN (ESPNRadio.com was named "Best Streaming Broadcast Station"). Pandora founder Tim Westergren was on-hand to accept his company's award; ESPN Radio Director of Digital and Print Media Revenue and Operations Cory Smith accepted ESPN's awards (pictured left; who also spoke at RAIN Summit). 

Cory Smith with ESPN's awards

The "Best Overall Digital Strategy" Award went to Clear Channel's digital service iHeartRadio (accepted by Clear Channel Media + Entertainment and SVP of iHeartRadio Network Owen Grover, who spoke at the Summit). And congratulations to Dallas-based webcaster RoothogRadio.com for being named the 2012 "Best Single-Stream Webcaster."

Special congratulations to Ezra Kucharz, President, Local Digital Media at CBS (pictured at right), for his special recognition with Triton Digital's RAINMaker Achievement Award.

Since 2010, the RAIN Internet Radio Awards have recognized the achievements and the best practices of the Internet radio industry.

Look for more coverage from RAIN Summit Dallas (and search #RAINSummit on Twitter), including audio, soon from RAIN.

New Arbitron/comScore system's first task: Measuring ESPN's cross-platform audience

Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 12:20pm

While we were waiting for Arbitron to finally unveil their long-awaited unified on-air/online radio measurement (see RAIN here), they've announced a deal with comScore and ESPN to measure audio, video, and display across radio, tv, the web, and mobile.

The goal here is to create audience measurement using common metrics on a national and continuous basis, so content providers and marketers can gauge the reach, engagement, and cross-platform duplication of audience.

"The unprecedented size and scope of the project is being driven by the multiplatform measurement requirements of ESPN, which delivers video, audio and display content via television (both in-home and out-of-home), online and mobile video, PC web, mobile web, apps, tablets, digital audio and terrestrial radio" (see yesterday's top story in RAIN here), the companies' announcement read.

The initiative (characterized as "five-platform" as it separates "smartphones" adn "tablets") will integrate "the census and panel-based PC, mobile and TV set-top box measurement capabilities of comScore along with enhanced, single-source, multiplatform measurement capabilities of the Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM) technology," according to the statement.

Though no roll-out date has been announced, ESPN, comScore and Arbitron will unveil more details October 1-3 at the upcoming Advertising Week convention in New York.

Read the press release here.

ESPN keys success on building what fans want, and not waiting for advertisers to demand it

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 11:40am

There's a great article in Bloomberg Businessweek on the mammoth, multi-platform success of the ESPN empire.

(Big hat-tip to Fred Jacobs, who covers the piece in his blog here where he wrote, "ESPN’s approach, decision-making, and risk-taking are what separates it from other traditional brands – and provides great lessons for radio companies and their very best stations.")

Since its inception in the late 70s, and especially over the past ten years, ESPN "has moved aggressively into new media and platforms, without regard for how they may negatively impact the old. This strategy allows ESPN to squeeze more revenue out of any event it carries by selling that same contest in multiple formats, instead of merely broadcasting it on television." ESPN president John Skipper credits the success to a philosophy of "build, build, build. There comes a time when a lot of businesses become calcified, but we never stop building."

Just how successful has their embrace of new media, especially mobile, been? "The number of users per minute, which is ESPN’s internal metric, reached 102,000 in June, an increase of 48% so far this year," and an astounding 70% of sports content consumed on mobile devices comes across an ESPN mobile app.

Skipper credits NOT cordoning off "digital" or "mobile," but making it everyone's priority. He said, "We have one revenue group, we have one ad sales group, so you don’t have factions fighting against this new digital group. … We don’t have a lot of infighting. We have everybody incentivized so that it’s about the total amount of business we do."

And, they don't wait for an ROI before they actually begin building the business. "ESPN has invested in creating content for a platform before business exists to support it. John Kosner, executive vice president for digital and print media, says, 'We’re not afraid to be ahead of the market. You win by delivering what fans want, and then that becomes a fantastic advertising proposition and a great business.'"

Read the Bloomberg Businessweek article on ESPN here.

ESPN Audio is a finalist in both the "Best Overall Online Radio Service" and "Best Overal Digital Strategy" categories for this year's RAIN Internet Radio Awards (see all the finalists here). ESPNRadio.com is a finalist in the "Best Streaming Broadcaster" category. We'll announce the winners at RAIN Summit Dallas this Tuesday. ESPN SVP/Production & Business Divisions Traug Keller revealed details of the then soon-to-launch revamped ESPN mobile app during his keynote address to RAIN Summit West this past April in Las Vegas.

ESPN.com to count only display ads viewable on a screen

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 11:40am

ESPN.com will license technology from startup RealVu to enable their advertisers to track whether a display ad actually appears on a user’s screen (rather than "below the fold" when a site viewer fails to scroll down).

"As part of the new pact, several test campaigns for (ad agency) Horizon clients will roll out this this month employing RealVu's technology, theoretically ensuring that only viewable impressions will be delivered," writes AdWeek

The ad industry is encouraging publishers to abandon the practice of tallying simple ad "impressions" (which may not ever even be seen), and instead track the number of ads that are "rendered" -- that is, displayed on a screen.

In 2010 MSNBC.com redesigned its site to "completely eliminate the possibility of below-the-fold impressions." AdWeek reports ESPN is considering a similar move.

Read more from AdWeek here.

Update to ESPN Radio iPhone app brings healthy dose of new features, iPad-only version

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 12:20pm

ESPN Radio iPhone appAs announced at RAIN Summit West 2012, ESPN Radio today updated its iOS mobile apps with new features, including the ability to rewind up to an hour of live programming on some ESPN stations.

The app also offers the ability to create custom sports radio stations, of a sort. Users can enter in up to 5 keywords (like "Chicago Cubs" or "Patrick Kane"), and the app will automatically offer up related shows, podcasts and other content.

Other updates include improved sound quality, faster connections and notifications about ESPN Radio programs. Users can also now cache stations for offline listening, as well as shows, podcasts and other on-demand content.

The update includes a new iPad-only version of the app. The new ESPN Radio app is free, but after 14 days listening to live streams and the custom "My Stations" feature costs $5 to use.

In our experience, it took quite a while to just sign up for an account on ESPN Radio -- a necessary step before getting to any content. After several errors and a reboot of our device, we finally were able to listen to some radio. From there things were smooth sailing. The app is jam-packed with content and various ways to quickly find audio that interests you, whether you're looking for local info or content about specific teams or players.

You can find the app from the iTunes Store here. All Things Digital has more coverage here.

ESPN Radio SVP/Production & Business Divisions Traug Keller revealed details of this app update at RAIN Summit West 2012 in April (RAIN coverage here).

ESPN says their Android mobile app will be updated in June and an app for Windows Phone will arrive in summer. The company also says their app has been downloaded 740,000 times since launching more than two years ago.

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