At ESPN Content is King, Says Executive VP
At ESPN, everything is content, even T-shirts, says executive vice president of content John Skipper. And although the organization has lots of sports content to fill its multi-platform media organization, Skipper told a roomful of media executives last week at an MPA sponsored “Breakfast with a Leader” that his company doesn’t use that content to cross-promote.
Instead, representatives from the company’s many channels, including ESPN the Magazine, and its mobile, television and radio channels, meet regularly to discuss content and decide where it best fits. “We don’t spend any time trying to get people to certain products,” he says. “We’re a single content organization and we put our news where it makes the most sense. We don’t cross-promote. We find people who read our magazine are most-often the registered users of our Web site, and the people who listen to our radio are most often the people who come home at night and watch our television channels.”
Even though, ESPN doesn’t use the content itself to cross-promote, Skipper says the company will present the same topic differently depending on the medium. For example, the sports news organization is developing a documentary celebrating the 100 years of NASCAR. It also broadcasts NASCAR live on television and is planning “history of NASCAR” write-ups for its magazine and Web site focusing on different aspects of the racing organization. “We’ll advertise it, running ads on TV and online, but the content is not written in a way to drive people from one product to another.”
The method seemingly is working for the company, which continues to launch new products and services for its readers. “We don’t worry about cannibalization because every new product we launch brings more users to the Web, to the magazine, to the TV, to the radio,” he says, adding that new products also bring new ad dollars to the company. “Sixty-percent of our clients (advertise on) more than one medium so we don’t think about cannibalization. We think about market share and how we can take share from our competitors.”
Although the magazine is a small part of ESPN’s business in terms of revenue, Skipper says it offers a large contribution to the organization. “Magazines are great,” he adds. “I got my start in magazines. And our magazine is astonishingly significant in that we’ve been able to use the magazine to figure a lot of other things out.”