Jimmy Pitaro joined The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast this week and shed some light on ESPN’s digital and traditional media strategy.
ESPN+ continues to garner big properties and an increasing subscriber base. ESPN’s president noted that they are thrilled with their digital growth since launching ESPN+ in 2018 — but aren’t looking to bundle the whole network.
“Today, we are absolutely running these parallel paths,” Pitaro said when asked how long until ESPN offers their TV schedule on ESPN+. “We’ve closed deals over the past year and a half that give us the right to protect the linear televisional television model, and at the same time move content over to direct-to-consumer ESPN+.”
Linear television is shrinking every year but still commands a large part of ESPN’s business model. The network is perennially among the most expensive channels for cable subscribers.
“So, that flexibility means we have exclusive games,” Jimmy Pitaro continued. “Like on the NHL side, we have 75 exclusive games for ESPN+ and Hulu. You both know on the NFL side; we secured one game per year, an international game, a Sunday morning game, for ESPN+ exclusively.
“Beyond exclusive games, we have the ability to simulcast. We have the ability to do alternative broadcasts. We have the ability to just move more content to plus. As I sit here today, I will tell you; we like this idea of being multiple things at the same time.”
It makes plenty of sense for ESPN to slow play a complete shift to the digital space. Ratings are much harder to gauge on digital content — and the power of terrestrial TV is still great enough that league affiliates want all of the exposure options available to them.
“Everyday,” Pitaro said. “We’re pretty good at this. Figuring out what content should sit where and as we do our deals, that’s a large part of the focus.”
Jimmy Pitaro used the NHL as an example where the network researched how to best reach fans in that league and landed on a dual model (TV & Digital) to attack rights negotiations. ESPN is juggling many different mediums as they continue navigating the ever-changing media landscape.
Twitter Seriously Looking At Sports Betting Options
“The company is learning that fans want to talk about sports on Twitter and not necessarily watch games there.”
Twitter is experiencing growth in sports, and it’s sparked considerations on the sports betting front as well. According to Front Office Sports, tweets sent on the social media platform during NFL games are up 11% this year and unique college football tweeters are up 35%.
The company is learning that fans want to talk about sports on Twitter and not necessarily watch games there.
“We’ve learned significantly over the years of what is the best use case for live on Twitter for our users,” Twitter U.S. Sports Partnerships manager David Herman told FOS. “It’s not like ‘live’ doesn’t exist with our partnerships, it’s just not necessarily the full game like it was in many of those early executions. That’s from learning both what our users like and what advertisers are interested in.”
One example Herman brought up is Twitter’s airing of the first five minutes from FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff. The stream features a fan poll that picks which camera that broadcast is shown on.
Another large growth area for engagement has been sports betting. Twitter told FOS that sports-betting-related tweets are up 22% this season.
“Every single day, there’s more and more conversation and more and more happening in the sports betting world,” Herman said. “We think Twitter is a platform that plays well into gambling-related conversations. We’re live. We’re real-time. That’s what betting is. Betting and gambling have long been a core component of sports conversations on Twitter. Now things are legalized, more sports betting brands can be advertisers on Twitter than in the past, and as leagues are partners with official betting operators, it’s getting more visibility and exposure on a daily basis.”
Don’t be surprised if the social media platform experiments with its own sportsbook technology.
“We are consistently looking for new ways to enhance the user experience, and at some point, as it relates to betting, that could be great,” Herman said. “There are a lot of complicated components for us. There are only certain states where it’s legal so far, so we are still evaluating the space as a whole.”
Read the full story from FOS here.
Scottie Pippen Writes That Michael Jordan Ruined Basketball
“I may go as far to say Mike ruined basketball.”
Scottie Pippen has had a lot of ridiculous things to say about former teammate and NBA legend Michael Jordan, and it seems that he is not done yet.
Pippen recently released his memoir, Unguarded which challenges a lot of what Pippen believes was wrong in The Last Dance documentary, which Michael Jordan had editorial control over.
You have to buy the book though to read Scottie Pippen’s most shocking critique of Michael Jordan.
“I may go as far to say Mike ruined basketball,” Pippen writes. “In the 80s on the playgrounds, you’d have everyone moving the ball around — passing to help the team. That stopped in the 90s. Kids wanted to be ‘Like Mike.’ Well, Mike didn’t want to pass, didn’t want to rebound, or defend the best player. He wanted everything done for him.”
This sounds like the same type of people who say Stephen Curry ruined the game of basketball with how many three-point attempts he makes every game. On the contrary, both of them transformed the game of basketball into a game where guards are much more of a focal point than before.
And that is just on the court. Off of it, Jordan transcended the game of basketball and brought it into the spotlight. Without him, it is extremely possible that we wouldn’t view the game the same way in the national media as we do today.
Scottie Pippen also said that he was a far better teammate than Michael Jordan, which is just as hard to believe as his first statement considering Scottie wouldn’t take the court in the final seconds of a playoff game against the Knicks because the winning play was drawn up for Tony Kukoc and not him in the year Jordan retired.
Plenty of sports media commentators have said that Scottie seems very jealous in the passages of Unguarded that have been released.
Barstool CEO Erika Nardini Offers Career Advice On Instagram
“Nardini has been the CEO at Barstool Sport for a little over five years after the company relocated from Boston to New York City.”
Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini has a wide range of experience in the business world and offered some advice over that time to curious Token CEO podcast listeners on Instagram.
Nardini has been the CEO at Barstool Sport for a little over five years after the company relocated from Boston to New York City. Here are a few of the advice nuggets she handed out on the AMA.
“Never!!” Nardini said when asked how late is too late for career switching in the corporate world. “Do your thing; just have reasonable expectations about how hard it’s going to be & how long it will take. Also, have expectations for learning/growing and having fun. Change is good.”
Nardini graduated from Colby College in 1998 with a B.S. in sociology and philosophy and immediately jumped into a career at Fidelity Investments after interning at the company.
“Definitely!” Nardini’s said when asked if it’s ok to DM someone at a company after applying. “Only once tho or they’ll think you’re creepy.”
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy named Nardini the company’s first CEO in 2016 while appointing himself chief of content.
“Be experimental,” the Barstool Sports CEO said when asked about general tips for moving up in a career. “Be highly communicative, listen, make a plan, and execute.”
Nardini left Fidelity in 2001 and has since worked the majority of her time in the tech field before joining Barstool Sports. She has had stints with Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AOL.
“I struggle with this,” Nardini said when asked how to set and reach milestones. “It’s hard to create structure when you’re growing so fast. I’m trying to improve here. A small number of goals and clear metrics seems to work best; we’ll see…”
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