The Focus Group to Debut on ESPN Tuesday

Studio Shows

The Focus Group to Debut on ESPN Tuesday

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.

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Dave Nagle

As I write this on 11-11-21, it's now 35 years for me at ESPN, the only real job I’ve ever had. I joined merely to help with the upcoming America’s Cup in Australia. I was told it would be for three months at all of $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville, Darlington, Indy and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals, Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, my main areas are tennis, UFC, boxing, network-wide ratings (by month/quarter/year), and corporate communications documents, including fact sheets, chronologies, lists and nearly 35 of the Year in Review press releases. UPDATE EXACTLY ONE YEAR LATER: Today, November 11, 2022, I am retiring from ESPN -- 36 years to the day I began. As I ride off into the sunset – top down and E Street Radio blaring – I do so with so many wonderful memories, proud of my contributions and a heart full of gratitude for the opportunity. 
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