In RAIN Summit West, ESPN SVP Keller shares philosophy for success (and details on that new app!)

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Issue Date: 
May 4 2012 - 11:00am

From Issue:

ESPN Radio is scheduled to update its industry-leading mobile app on May 15th, and keynote speaker Traug Keller shared details on some of the new features with RAIN Summit West attendees.

First, though, we were thrilled and honored to welcome Keller, ESPN SVP/Production & Business Divisions, to our recent Las Vegas event (more info here).

[We're very happy to announce that on Monday, we'll offer video of each RAIN Summit segment! Be sure to see Monday's RAIN.]

In his address, Keller described the transformation of ESPN Radio's content culture as an "evolution from 'radio' to 'audio,' and emphasized the word "wherever" (from the company's mission statement: "To serve sports fans, wherever sports are watched, listened to, discussed, debated, read about, or played") as the key to ESPN Radio's innovation. In other words, getting the content sports fans care about on to any available platform is paramount.

He vehemently stressed that the idea of spreading content to the web, mobile, and satellite might cannabalize more traditional outlets as "a myth!" He equally strenuously drove home the importance of relentless promotion of the content you offer: "You have to tell people, in this very complicated digital world with a multitude of options and choices, where to find your content," Keller advised. Equally important to success, according to Keller, is attracting quality people to your team. "Man do we need to attract good people. It doesn't happen without it."

While some in the industry have written seem to have written off podcasting as an early dead-end, Keller seemed enthusiastic. In fact, he called podcasts "a whole new business." ESPNRadio, according to Keller, is now producing 80 podcasts every month, which get downloaded 50 million times. When ESPN columnist and podcast Bill Simmons publishes a new podcast, it's downloaded 1.8 million times within the first 24 hours, Keller claimed.

So, about that app update! Keller says the ESPN Radio mobile app, at its May 15th update (for iOS and Android, Windows will be later), users will be able to create their own stations (in much the same way users of ESPN partner Slacker can now), focusing on news from their favorites sports, teams, and players. Very exciting will be the "rewind live" feature, which will allow users to access a show or a game from its beginning -- even if the user tuned in after it had already begun. The app will have expanded "social" capabilities to enable users to share content (Keller called radio "the original social fuel, especially when you're talking about sports"). Finally, the app itself will know the teams and players you like, and customize access to content to fit your preferences. (By the way, you may want to see that SiriusXM's new Android app has some of these same features -- see our coverage here.)

Look for full videos of each RAIN Summit West segment soon.

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