The ESPN Digital Network has achieved its biggest month on record, with the local platform overtaking afl.com and jumping to number one in the sports category in Nielsen’s Digital Ratings for the first time.
In November last year, ESPN’s Global Digital Network saw 128 million users worldwide with a total of 1.1 billion site visits, ahead of Yahoo Sports/ NBC Sports Network’s 650.4 million and conquering afl.com who held the top spot in October within Neilsen.
On the back of the record, ESPN has announced it will cover the Australian Open using a model using its digital networks across the United States, Australia and the UK, tailoring the content produced to each region and their associated network.
Lance Peatey, director of digital products and partnerships at ESPN told Mumbrella: “Australian Open in 2017 is the first time that we are really bringing a model that has served us well in FIFA World Cup in 2014 in Brazil, whereby we leverage our rights holding position within the territories where we are the main broadcaster, and we then super serve fans also in the territories where we are not the rights holder and feed back the colour from the respective events. There is no match action or anything that impedes on rights, but it’s all the colour from the events and the ‘game around the game’ as we call it. These are things we will be focusing on for Australian Open.”
Although not holding the rights to broadcast live in Australia, ESPN will produce “game around the game” news and feature stories fronted by sports broadcaster Stephanie Brantz alongside Darren Cahill, Chris Evert, Pam Shriver and John McEnroe.
The international broadcaster will roll out its live coverage across the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.
“In terms of concerning multiple countries, we’re the biggest broadcaster down there and we’re leveraging that position, to be able to service our record global audience,” Peaty said.
“It’s great to be bringing [this model] to an event like the Australian Open where ESPN’s a long-time broadcaster in the US, and now we can do it on an annual event and bring this model that’s served us well since FIFA World Cup in 2014 in Brazil. We are now bringing it to an annual event for the first time in Australia,” he said.
ESPN has continued its success securing local broadcasting rights for The World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide, the WTA Hobart International and the Australian Open Juniors Finals for the next three years.
Peatey said securing the three tennis titles rounded out ESPN’s commitment to tennis, complementing the ATP500/1000 series.
Haydn Arndt, general manager of Australia and New Zealand at ESPN, said: “We welcome this great opportunity to leverage the power of ESPN in our own backyard to serve sports fans anytime and anywhere across the globe. From a local perspective, this is a natural extension to the new rights we’ve acquired for the WTC and WTA events, and it complements our long term commitment to the ATP Tour. Steph Brantz contributed significantly in the inaugural year of our Australian edition of ESPN.com, and it’s great that we’re now working with her to serve our global digital audience.”