ESPN scores outside the house

47% of all cable-watching men watch the sports chan

NEW YORK — ESPN is by far the favorite cable network of men who watch TV outside their home.

A Nielsen Media Research study of out-of-home viewers, which ESPN’s researchers examined under a microscope, shows that in a typical week more than 2.9 million men tune in to ESPN, 2.4 million of whom are men 18 to 49, the category that advertisers are most eager to reach.

Even more impressive, says Artie Bulgrin, VP of research and sales development for ESPN, is that ESPN harvests an average of 47% of all the men who watch a cable network during a given week at their office, in a college dorm, a hotel room, a sports bar or a second home — the five most typical out-of-home locations.

Bulgrin says ESPN doesn’t plan to use these numbers for the specific purpose of jacking up its rate card to advertisers. But the Nielsen study “shows advertisers that there’s a value to buying time on ESPN,” says Bulgrin.

“ESPN works hard to deliver this audience,” he continues, pointing to the track record of the network’s aggressive affiliate sales people, who try to make sure that every hotel and college facility includes ESPN in its channel lineup.

The Nielsen study, based on a national sample of 9,739 people ages 12 and older who filled out diaries for one week during the survey period (Oct. 2 to Nov. 27, 1997), was the first of its kind to include cable networks in an out-of-home report.

The average number of people 12 and older who watched a cable network in one of the survey weeks was 11.3 million. Of that total, Bulgrin says, 3.9 million were looking at ESPN, a total of 34%.

Colleges racked up the largest percentage of out-of-home ESPN viewers, at 31%. Restaurants/bars/clubs came in second, at 28%. The third place, hotels/motels, hit 20%, followed by workplaces at 13% and second homes at 3%. The miscellaneous “other” category delivered another 5%.

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