ESPN will present The Focus Group, an innovative new series devoted exclusively to the opinions of the American sports fan, Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. ET, beginning Sept. 17. The 30-minute program, produced under the ESPN Original Entertainment (EOE) banner, will originate from New York and will feature 6-8 sports enthusiasts from around the country discussing and debating the hottest and most controversial topics in sports. Artie Bulgrin, ESPN senior vice president, research & sales development, and Ed Wolf, president of Wolf/Altschul/Callahan, Research, Inc., will alternate moderating the program each week. Both are highly experienced at conducting real-world focus groups for marketing research purposes – a concept ESPN has now adapted into a television series.
“The concept of the show combines a traditional market research focus group with the feel of a sports radio fan call-in program, a primary outlet for sports fans to voice their opinions,” Bulgrin said. “In this case we have recruited some of the best fans in America, using real focus groups, to sit in the same room voicing their opinions and debating current, sometimes controversial sports issues. We are trying to share the honest opinions from typical sports fans all over America. We think it will be fun.”
Additionally, viewers will be able to log on to ESPN.com and vote for one focus group member per episode to return to the final show on November 5. Viewers can also use the ESPN.com message board to send in other ideas for topics.
“The Focus Group will give the every-day sports fan a rare platform to address topical sports issues of the week,” said Mike Antinoro, senior coordinating producer, EOE. “From the college student to the investment banker to the local police officer, The Focus Group takes real fans with strong opinions, and moves their debate from the water cooler to prime time.”
A 22-year veteran of the industry, Bulgrin heads ESPN’s research area, providing audience and market research to all divisions of the company. He joined ESPN in February 1996 as vice president, research and sales development and promoted to his current position in July 2001. He previously had been director, research and sales data services, at Capital Cities/ABC National Television Sales, Inc.
A researcher since 1965, Wolf has done pioneering work in qualitative and quantitative research. He is a former Research Group Head at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample and Research Supervisor for Oxtoby Smith. Before entering commercial research, he worked as a practicing psychologist.