ESPN Presents Results of World Cup Cross-Platform Research Project – ESPN XP

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ESPN Presents Results of World Cup Cross-Platform Research Project – ESPN XP

Project Finds Multiplatform Exposure Can Triple Sponsorship Performance

New York, NY –The 2010 FIFA World Cup marked the debut of the groundbreaking ESPN XP cross-media research initiative.  Today at the ARF’s 360 Media and Marketing Super Council, ESPN Research+Analytics unveiled findings from this project, which utilized data from 15 research suppliers to measure media usage and advertiser effects across all media platforms – TV, Radio, Internet, Mobile and Print.

“Our mission for ESPN XP is to move cross-platform measurement from custom project to standard practice. The quality and depth of data from this World Cup project has exceeded my expectations and is a major step towards this goal,” said Artie Bulgrin, senior vice president of ESPN Research+Analytics.

160 million Americans (55%) consumed World Cup content across all ESPN platforms during the month-long contest, providing a real-life lab to learn not only how consumers use multiple media platforms but also how advertisers can best use those platforms to convey their message.

Advertiser Effects

In analyzing the effects of cross-media campaigns for World Cup advertisers, ESPN Research+Analytics wanted to get beyond standard measures of reach and frequency, to isolate the contribution each platform makes to the overall impact of an integrated media campaign.  The World Cup project revealed that a coordinated multiplatform campaign produces better results on key performance metrics such as recall, brand attitude, purchase intent and brand affinity.

“A majority of our clients advertise across multiple ESPN screens, which was especially true of the World Cup,” said Barbara Singer, ESPN vice president of advertiser insights and strategy.  “The findings from this research project will help us bring smart platform packages to advertisers because now we know what combinations work better towards specific goals.”

The research explored what a sponsor must do to be effective in this era when media are being consumed in “New Markets of Time”, e.g., on a mobile device in line at the grocery store or on the sidelines of a child’s soccer game.  The ESPN XP analysis demonstrated that advertisers must have presence across all platforms to ensure not only exposure but also authenticity of sponsorship.  In fact, advertisers who put together the most cohesive story saw the greatest impact.

ESPN XP studied campaigns for each of the participating advertisers.  Those specific results will be shared with the clients in the coming weeks.  Some of the key overall insights from the advertising portion of ESPN XP included:

Brand Recall increased progressively with platform exposure

In one case study, persons who were exposed to an advertiser on all five platforms had over three times the sponsor association as persons who were exposed only on TV.  These data show progressively higher effectiveness with exposure on more platforms.

Mobile emerged as a critical component in multi-platform campaigns

On certain key performance indicators, advertising on mobile alone performed as well as advertising on TV alone.  Mobile in combination with TV drove the highest branded word-of-mouth conversations for advertisers.  One case study showed that in a media mix, mobile combined with magazines worked as a powerful pair to drive interest in a new product.

Multiplatform Insights:

During the World Cup, ESPN Research+Analytics calculated that out-of-home TV viewing and usage of non-TV platforms (Radio, Internet, Mobile, Print) added 1.5 million viewers per minute (46%) to the World Cup TV average audience.  They also identified a group of fans (7.2 million per day) who consumed the World Cup on TV and some other platform.  These multiplatform users represented 26% of ESPN’s daily World Cup reach, but did nearly half of all daily World Cup consumption.

Further analysis revealed:

The multi-platform user is a multi-location user.

In a result that corroborates the “Best Available Screen” principle, ESPN Research+Analytics found that a users’ location largely determined the mix of media used.

  • An individual who only consumed World Cup content at home was much more likely to only watch TV.
  • Persons with only out-of-home consumption were almost four times as likely to use non-TV platforms only.
  • The multi-location user (both in-home and out-of-home) was most likely to be a multi-platform user.

ESPN saw unprecedented use across its digital platforms — a total of 4.9 billion minutes, or 110,000 persons in the average minute.

Fans spent 4.9 billion gross minutes with and ESPN Mobile properties.  Translating that into the platform-agnostic metric of average audience, ESPN Research+Analytics found that 110,000 persons used ESPN digital media to consume World Cup content in the average minute.  That was greater than the audience for 23 cable networks over the 31 days of the event.  Broadband network out-delivered 69 cable networks on the morning of June 23 when it achieved an average audience of 396,000, fueled by simultaneous streams of USA vs. Algeria and England vs. Slovenia.

The US fan base for International Soccer grew to record levels.

The percentage of Americans who said they were interested rose to 42% in July, a record high for the sport.  A similar peak in interest around the 2006 World Cup had a permanent effect, as fan levels rose from 24% before that tournament to 30% afterwards.  A similar effect is expected following this record-high figure.

Non-TV platforms added a million persons to ESPN’s average audience.

Internet use accounted for 61% of this usage, and Internet video, including record-breaking usage on, represented a third of the total.  ESPN’s largest non-TV World Cup audience was 5.7 million persons on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 22, which more than doubled the in-home TV audience for a pair of Group Play matches (Nigeria vs. South Korea and Greece vs. Argentina).

Cross-platform offerings brought new exposure to ESPN brands.

22% of consumers of ESPN World Cup content said they tried an ESPN platform for the first time during the tournament.  The most frequently mentioned platforms were and ESPN Radio, followed by

Radio, Digital Media and Print extended ESPN’s reach.

Each day, 27.7 million persons used ESPN World Cup content.  10% of them did so solely on a non-TV platform, an incremental daily reach lift of 2.8 million persons.

18% of ESPN World Cup consumption was done out-of-home.

861,000 persons, or 18% of ESPN’s total average audience, consumed the World Cup in out-of-home locations.  44% of this usage was at work, 16% in cars, 15% in bars and restaurants, and 24% in other locations.  Peak out-of-home viewing (2.2 million persons) occurred on June 26 during the USA vs. Ghana match.

ESPN’s “beyond the ratings” lift averaged 46%, but was 56% on weekdays.

Monday through Friday, out-of-home TV viewing and usage of non-TV platforms lifted ESPN’s in-home TV audience by 56%.  Fans were more likely to be at work and other locations on weekdays, resulting in more out-of-home TV viewing and a greater reliance on radio and digital media.

What’s Next for ESPN XP

ESPN Research + Analytics continues to mine an exhaustive amount of data collected during the World Cup.

“Our presentation at the ARF is really just the tip of the iceberg,” said Glenn Enoch, vice president of integrated media research.  “We’ve spent a busy summer analyzing an incredible set of data and evaluating innovative ways of measuring cross-media usage.  We will continue to search these data for insight in the weeks to come, as our attention shifts to the next project in our ESPN XP series, which will explore cross-media usage during football season.”

Details for the ESPN XP football project are forthcoming, but will include participation in the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) test of USA TouchPoints (previously introduced as part of the ESPN XP World Cup project) and a large-scale measurement project utilizing Knowledge Networks’ Total Touch, which began on September 24 and will end at the conclusion of the Bowl Championship Series in January, 2011.

Additional suppliers for the football project will be announced at a later date.

About the ESPN World Cup project

ESPN XP is a research initiative unprecedented in scope, to study consumer behavior around major sporting events.  It began with the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  The research collective, which includes 15 top-tier companies as well as the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative, measured media usage and advertiser effects across all media platforms – TV, radio, Internet, mobile and print.

Affiliated research companies for the World Cup ESPN XP project included:  Ando Media, Disney and Media Ad Lab, GfK, Keller Fay Group, Knowledge Networks, MBI, MRI, Nielsen, Omniture, OTX, Pointlogic, Repucom, Vision Critical and Visible Measures, as well as the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative (WIMI).

Amy Phillips

My responsibilities in the communications group are largely of the Corporate Communications variety. A Midwesterner at heart and a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I am grateful every day to call New York City home. An alumnus of the College of the Holy Cross, I hold out irrational hope that one day the school will recoup some of its former mid-century sports prowess.
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