ESPN pushes digital subscription service in new marketing campaign

ESPN, the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports Entertainment,” which has traditionally staked its reputation on its vast network and cutting-edge delivery of live sports on cable television, is launching a widespread marketing campaign for ESPN Insider, the brand’s digital subscription-based product.

According to AdAge, the company will be launching the first of three planned commercials for ESPN Insider that will help broaden its appeal and raise awareness among customers and consumers of its other offerings. Subscribers, who make either monthly or annual subscription payments of $7.95 and $39.95 respectively, gain access to a wide breadth of exclusive expert analysis and predictions, according to the ESPN Insider website. This covers a big variety of sports, including the four major professional sports of American football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey, along with college sports, motorsports and international sporting news.

The subscription management service, is a potentially great source of recurring revenue for the sports entertainment network, which currently has approximately 670,000 subscribers, according to the news source. Approximately 40 percent of these were initially print subscribers to ESPN The Magazine, which allows free access to Insider through a recurring billing bundle. Print subscribers notwithstanding, the Insider service accounted for approximately 400,000 unique subscribers, a comparable number to The New York Times’ 530,000 digital subscribers. However, the sports network believes that with greater awareness, it could gain even more via effective enterprise billing, as demand for all-encompassing, 24-7 sports coverage and analysis reaches an all-time high in the American marketplace.

The series of three commercials will appeal to different sports demographics, according to the news source. The first is directed at the fantasy football player and fan, an increasingly large proportion of the ESPN fanbase. The second spot will be a National Football League-themed commercial, while the third, which will run in 2013, aims at fans who fill out brackets during college basketball’s March Madness. The network hopes to appeal to these three broad, but very popular, areas of general sporting interests by touting the tremendous access that subscribers can gain through Insider about their respective sport.

“[The commercials are] trying to convey what it’s like to have exclusive access behind the scenes in the world of big-time sports,” Adriana Rizzo, senior director of marketing at ESPN, told the news source. “Insider has been successful for a long time, but it isn’t a product that has great awareness. And when people are aware of it, they’re not necessarily aware of all the benefits.”