MENLO PARK, CA: ESPN, the sports network, believes that mobile represents an increasingly powerful "extension" of its brand, especially among the young, male audience.

Artie Bulgrin, ESPN's SVP/Global Research and Analytics, discussed this subject at the Advertising Research Foundation's 2016 ARF West conference.

"Mobile is an extension of our brand. It gives us the ability to reach this audience that becomes harder to reach over more traditional platforms," he said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: How ESPN maximizes marketing research on mobile.)

"It's the ubiquity of these devices, the ability to have sight, sound and motion in your pocket at any given time, and the ability to accrue reach very, very quickly."

Drilling down further into the role of wireless devices, he asserted that this channel overlaps significantly with a core target demographic for ESPN. "Forty percent of the mobile audience is male, aged 18–34 [years old]," said Bulgrin.

"The most significant thing about mobile in the world of sports right now is how it's transforming the way that young men stay in touch with sports."

As a result, mobile constitutes an opportunity for the company to give fans their latest sports fix, as well as build an audience for the future.

In demonstrating its current strengths in this area, ESPN reports it is among the "top ten in the mobile space" for 18–34-year-old males, attracting nearly five million unique visitors per day.

ESPN's research assessing all adults over 18-years-old also suggests that 23% are only accessible to brands on digital platforms, and over 70% of that unique audience is on mobile. "That continues to grow," reported Bulgrin.

A major consequence of this trend – both for ESPN as a content provider and for marketers seeking to reach sports fans – is that mobile must occupy a meaningful place in their mix.

"In many cases, if you're not advertising across platforms – particularly mobile – you're sacrificing critical reach in terms of having an effect," he said.

For more insights from ESPN, check out Warc's recent webinar with Artie Bulgrin, where he discusses the brand's integrated advertising approach.

Data sourced from Warc