ESPN Launches New ESPN.com for Site’s 20th Anniversary
ESPN launched a new ESPN.com, a website that has been re-engineered to deliver a more personal, elegant, and lively sports experience to fans with greater personalization and functional design across devices – anytime, anywhere.
Already the world’s largest sports website as measured by reach and engagement, ESPN will, for the first time, publish its flagship digital property in “editions” – launching in the U.S. and U.K. simultaneously, with multiple versions to roll out over the next 12 to 18 months.
The new ESPN.com is responsively designed to adjust to the user’s device and platform and its creation incorporates feedback from sports fans during extensive research and testing. The design is the result of a mobile-first approach that allows ESPN.com to deliver a consistent experience for sports fans on computer, tablet, or handset.
Built on a completely new technology infrastructure and engineered to deliver sports content at real-time speed, the new ESPN.com will enable ESPN content groups to continue to serve fans with sports scores, news, and powerful storytelling in innovative ways.
“Digital media is more important than ever to ESPN, and this new platform for our sites and content will let us to do more than ever before to serve fans globally, locally and personally,” said John Skipper, President, ESPN and co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks. “Through hard work, smart risk-taking and a consistent belief and 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 John Kosner, executive vice president of ESPN Digital and Print Media, who has led the ESPN.com since 2003, “Our digital, technology and design teams have created a new ESPN.com that is elegant, intuitive and fast. Our product and technology teams have built a global platform that allows our content creators to program locally in any market and make the most of all the ways in which fans consume sports. It is purposefully familiar to our native ESPN app and shares aesthetic elements with other ESPN TV and print experiences. And this is just the beginning – a first stage of an iterative approach that will allow us to continue to enhance ESPN.com over time.”
Notably, the new site debuts new levels of personalization and the “ESPN Now” section as central pillars to the user experience, alongside ESPN’s leading news, feature, analysis, and commentary.
The ESPN Now section is powered by a dedicated editorial team, charged with capturing and curating a stream of up-to-the-minute sports moments and conversations as they’re happening. Content in ESPN Now includes short, snackable content including breaking news, must-see and in-game video, audio clips, social responses, insightful statistics from ESPN Stats & Info and more, all of which are easily shareable. First introduced in the ESPN App, ESPN Now provides a way to capture the immediacy of sports today, while maintaining the editorial standard required by ESPN.
The new site also introduces a powerful new personalization engine to the site, allowing each individual fan to always have direct access to the content that matters most in a dedicated way alongside the main news section and “Now.”
The simultaneous launch of and the new UK edition of the site (ESPN.co.uk), marks the first of multiple editions outside the U.S. It is a result of a global foundation of technology and product development that will power multiple sites with locally relevant and personalized content driven by ESPN teams around the world. This approach of building globally and programming locally allows ESPN to serve sports fans anytime, anywhere with a consistent, personal experience on a worldwide scale.
ESPN: 20 Years on the Web
The re-launch of 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 visits 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).
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.
ESPN.com 20th Anniversary Content
Celebrating its first 20 years online, ESPN.com began this week a series of articles, Top 20 rankings and visual galleries that tell the story of the site’s origins and how it has evolved over the last two decades, as well as a look ahead to the next 20 years.
20th anniversary content on the site includes a gallery of screenshots looking back at ESPN.com’s design through the years, an info graphic that explores the data behind the site, and an essay by Steve Wulf, a former editor at ESPN The Magazine and one of the first contributors to ESPN.com, who provides a behind-the-scenes look at the early days of ESPN.com.
Top 20 lists from the ESPN.com staff include rankings of the top athletes, news stories, moments in sports, teams and more over the last 20 years. Looking ahead, FiveThirtyEight.com will examine the odds of various sports records being broken in the next 20 years.
ESPN Audio will also produce a special edition podcast exploring the site’s history and the broader theme of the impact of the Internet on sports over the past 20 years.
The new ESPN.com will allow ESPN to continue to push digital advertising industry forward and provide greater scope for flexibility and innovation. It will be a showcase for advertisers and marketers with impactful new ad units, prominent video placements and the ability to deliver seamless solutions for advertisers across devices while leveraging the strengths of sports and ESPN – the live experience, video, mobile, social, and scale.
Chevrolet is an advertising sponsor for the launch of the US site. ESPN is working with a range of other advertisers who will be unveiling new creative on the site in the coming days and weeks.
Advertising on the site was designed to deliver high-impact units and 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.