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Ad:Tech Bangalore: James Miner on ESPN Star Sports’s Digital Strategy

Speaking at Ad:Tech Bangalore, James Miner, Senior Vice President, Digital Media, ESPN Star Sports talked about how the media company is offering a digital sports experience to consumers irrespective of the platform they are currently on, so that consumers can move beyond the living room and not worry about missing any important sporting event.

He said that if one has to observe where the world’s media habits are headed, they should observe what kids are currently doing right now.

He also said that passive television is a thing of past and unlike in television, showing only a live stream on mobile devices is not a strategy since consumers will eventually get bored. Further, these digital platforms also allows them to offer more features to their consumers than on broadcast television.

Miner claimed that ESPN produces around 6,000 events every year and said that on-demand content consumption will drive the next generation of media, where consumers will be able to share content like video clips with their friends and family. He also added that the next generation of television will be social television, which will bridge the television platform with mobile and web apps.

ESPN Sports Destinations: Miner demoed two ESPN sports destinations:

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Espnstar.com/F1 where it offers Formula 1 (F1) related information including the latest news, race schedule, driver and team standings, and on-demand video clips along with live streaming of Formula 1 races during the race time. Miner said that they offer various camera views including the pit-lane and driver camera views during a race, which is usually not possible in broadcast television. Besides this, the portal also offers a curated Twitter feed of F1 personalities and teams right next to the live streams, in a bid to provide more behind-the-scenes information about an ongoing race.

Espnstar.com/live where the company is currently live streaming the ongoing cricket T20 world cup across India. Miner claimed that the live stream works perfectly fine on 3G connections and renders well even on a mobile phone due to a responsive design. Besides the live stream, the destination also offers match statistics, forthcoming fixtures, and on-demand video clips of previous matches.

He claimed that India is one of the few markets where ESPN offers a simulcast of sport events across all platforms, although we are not quite sure if the above mentioned sports destinations are new or were previously available to consumers.

Monetization: Miner stated they work with advertisers to integrate ads without hampering the user experience but very few advertisers currently understand the product experience.

Licensing Issues? He also mentioned that offering streaming worldwide comes with its own challenges of keeping up with the content’s licensing rights which changes depending upon the geographies. However, he noted that consumers now have an option to directly talk to sports broadcasters on these digital platforms to show their favorite sporting event. Miner said that he gets 9,000 messages on Facebook every hour, whenever ESPN doesn’t show an Arsenal football match.

Update: an earlier version of this article incorrectly mentioned that ESPN STAR is streaming Cricket live on 2.5g. The error is regretted. Our apologies.

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