1st April 2015
• Fast, elegant and intuitive new ESPN.co.uk delivers powerful device-agnostic experience with ESPN’s world class sports content and journalism
• Global product and tech architecture will see simultaneous launch with new US edition – ESPN.com
• ESPN, the world’s largest digital sports provider, celebrates 20th anniversary
• Mitsubishi on board as advertising launch partner to take advantage of innovative new solutions
ESPN UK today launches a brand new responsive website which will bring fans the best sport content and coverage easily, quickly and intuitively across any device.
The site – ESPN.co.uk – is the product of ESPN’s market-leading digital knowledge and has been built on completely new world-class technology infrastructure engineered to deliver sports news, scores and content at real-time speed. It delivers new features and functional design that enable it to serve fans with even more UK multi-sport news, coverage and video – from football, cricket, rugby, and Formula 1 to golf, boxing, tennis, the best of US sports and more. The April 1st launch date marks the 20th anniversary of ESPN’s first appearance on the World Wide Web.
The UK site launches simultaneously with the brand new US edition – ESPN.com – and reflects the capability of ESPN’s new platform to support multiple editions. The launch reflects the first simultaneous launch of ESPN digital products in the US and UK, with other editions rolling out in the next 12-18 months.
Utilising feedback from sports fans during extensive research and testing, the new ESPN.co.uk is responsively designed to adjust to the user’s device and platform. The result is a site that allows ESPN.co.uk to deliver a consistent and seamless experience for sports fans, no matter where or how they view the site – on a desktop, laptop, tablet or handset.
“Digital media is more important than ever to fans and to ESPN, and this new platform for our sites and content will let us to do more than ever before to serve them globally, locally and personally,” said John Kosner, executive vice president, ESPN Digital and Print Media. “Through hard work, smart risk-taking and a consistent embrace of the internet and other emerging platforms and technologies ESPN has established and maintained a lasting leadership in an industry that changes, seemingly, by the week.”
Added Charly Classen, General Manager & Vice President, ESPN EMEA, “In the past twelve months we’ve seen the number of fans consuming sport on mobiles or tablets grow faster than ever, and the frequency of fans using those devices to follow sport increase significantly. That is a perfect illustration of why it’s been essential to develop the new ESPN.co.uk to deliver incredible experiences across any device. We are extremely proud of the exceptional editorial content we produce in the UK and around the world, and this new site is ahead of the industry in showcasing that content to fans. Importantly, this is just the beginning, a first stage of an iterative approach that will allow us to continue to further enhance ESPN.co.uk in the weeks and months ahead.”
ESPN UK’s new features include the “Now” section, a dedicated presence on the home page and other key index pages to delivering fans the latest sports news and moments, and provides a way to capture the immediacy of sports today and the social conversation around sports. First introduced in ESPN’s Sportscenter app in 2014, Now proved popular with users and features snackable and shareable content that will range from the latest news breaking on social media to key in-game moments and first-take reactions to major stories.
Additionally, in the coming months ESPN will also introduce a powerful personalisation engine to the UK site, following its introduction on the US edition today. The site’s personalisation will deliver the content that matters most to each individual fan in a dedicated way alongside the main news section and “Now.”
These new pillars complement and build on ESPN’s well-established heritage of in-depth news reporting, analysis and long-form journalism. ESPN’s London editorial team, led by managing editor Steve Busfield, drives coverage for UK fans, while leveraging ESPN’s unmatched global reach and collection of leading journalists covering every major sport around the world.
ESPN: 20 Years on the Web
The re-launch of ESPN.co.uk and ESPN.com marks the 20th anniversary of ESPN’s debut on the web at www.ESPNSportsZone.com, through a collaboration with Starwave, on April 1, 1995. Since then, the growth of the site has been astounding.
In 1998, ESPN.com saw 1.2 million visitors per day, making it the most-visited sports website in the U.S. In 2014, ESPN.com saw 24.7 million visits in the average day, and more than 9 billion across the entire year. On a recent day this year – March 10, 2015, the first day of NFL free agency – ESPN.com had 2.3 million visits in one hour (4:00 pm and 5:00 pm ET), which was 1 million more visits than it had for an entire average day in 1998.
In January 2015, ESPN digital properties – which include content across web, apps and video – had 126.5 million monthly unique visitors worldwide, the most ever in the global sports category. Between June 2014 and January 2015, ESPN digital content reached more than 100 million global unique visitors each month, making it the No. 1 digital sports property in the world.
The new ESPN.co.uk will allow ESPN to continue to push the digital advertising industry forward and provide greater scope for flexibility and innovation, delivering seamless solutions for advertisers across devices, and leverage the strengths of sports and ESPN – the live experience, video, mobile and social.
Mitsubishi is an advertising partner for the launch of the UK site, while ESPN is also working with a range of partners including BT Sport to develop new creative executions for the site.
The deal with Mitsubishi includes ESPN UK as well as UK-based traffic to ESPN.com, and is part of ESPN’s larger year-long digital partnership with the auto company. The execution will include ESPN’s first ever fully-responsive homepage takeover – across all devices – highlighting Mitsubishi’s ‘ASX’ model.
The site will deliver impactful, effective solutions for advertisers based on a new Universal Advertising Package (UAP), which offers the best advertising experience for each device, screen and orientation. The approach streamlines creative delivery and ad serving on the new ESPN, and ensures the best representation for brands, no matter the device. The move is designed to enable advertisers to take advantage of the increased effectiveness of multiplatform campaigns compared to single-platform.
When advertisers provide a full slate of UAP assets, ads will be synched on the page – only one advertiser will feature on a page at any one time – meaning brands will no longer compete for attention against other advertisers. Advertising will also be integrated into the site to make them as viewable as possible, rather than sitting outside the navigation and editorial content.
Commenting on the new advertising solutions, Alan Fagan, Group Sales Director ESPN EMEA, said: “Consumption is changing, and ESPN is developing solutions by following consumer behaviour and connecting advertisers into that behaviour effectively. The result is that advertising is part of the DNA of the new ESPN site, with ad solutions that look great and are effective on any device. It means the new ESPN is a better experience for the user, and a better solution for brands looking to target one of the biggest sports audiences in the UK.”