NEW YORK: ESPN, the sports network, is tapping in-depth research about out-of-home viewing to holistically serve its audience, and in a bid to unlock valuable knowledge for advertisers.

Katie Brown, Associate Manager/Advertising & Marketing Intelligence at ESPN, discussed this subject during a session at the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) “Maximizing OOH Impact” event.

According to the firm’s proprietary research, she suggested, some 7% of viewers only watch ESPN properties while out-of-home, and a significant share of its subscribers consume content in locations like bars, gyms, hotels and even at the office.

“This represents a new audience that we hadn’t been able to previously to capture,” she said. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: ESPN innovates in out-of-home audience measurement.)

Understanding this audience is essential if ESPN is to achieve its mission to “serve sports fans anytime, anywhere”, as well as serving useful information to advertisers.

In pursuit of this goal, the network has leveraged a measurement product officially unveiled earlier this year by Nielsen, the research company, that aims to track out-of-home viewership.

“ESPN has been proudly at the forefront, partnering with [Nielsen] in that measurement,” Brown said. “They have enabled us to unlock new audiences that we have been able to monetize in the marketplace.

“We know the industry is moving toward comprehensive total-audience measurement across TV screens, OTT devices, mobile devices, so on, and so forth. But we at ESPN really believe that in order to have the full picture, out-of-home TV must be included here.”

Among the granular insights gleaned by ESPN in this space are that its out-of-home audience skews younger than the at-home alternative, is more female, and features a greater proportion of Hispanic viewers.

Such knowledge points are helping ESPN better understand its out-of-home viewers. And the next step is generating a fuller perspective on how advertising works in the same environment.

“We’ve been trying to get at that for a while. The short answer is that we don’t have anything definitive right now,” Brown told the ARF delegates.

“The long answer is that out-of-home viewing can happen in so many different locations … We want to make sure that when we do go out with something, we’re really capturing it in the most accurate way we can.”

Sourced from ARF; additional content by WARC staff