×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

ESPN Will Count Linear, Streaming Audiences as One

As ESPN viewers watch the kickoff to next week’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals, ESPN executives will be attempting a pivotal play all their own.

The Disney-controlled sports-media outlet will next week cease reporting separate live viewership figures for linear TV and streaming, and instead report them as a single number. Monday’s broadcast day will be the first on which ESPN will offer a live “total audience” number that reflects both traditional TV watching as well as viewing via streaming services, executives said Friday. ESPN and Nielsen, the media-measurement firm upon whose data the industry relies, will add to that number over the next few weeks, adding in viewing done on mobile screens as well as viewing done via “out of home” sources, like TVs in bars and hotels.

Viewers “consume our content on a wide variety of screens,  a wide variety of technologies,” said Ed Erhardt, president of global sales and marketing for ESPN, during a conference call.  The company has been in the marketplace since May pitching the new system to advertisers, and Erhardt said all of ESPN’s advertisers have agreed to utilize the linear-plus-streaming figures and “more than 50%” have agreed to utilize viewing from “out of home” sources. “We expect more as they see the data and see the numbers,” Erhardt said. “We feel pretty good about the progress we have made.”

ESPN expects the Nielsen-verified viewership of live streaming and mobile to add as much as 5% to 7% in younger audiences, said Dave Coletti, vice president of media intelligence at ESPN. “When you add in out of home, it tends to amplify the audience at the younger end” as well, he said.

The measurement shift applies to ESPN and ESPN2 programming, executives said. The “ad load” on linear broadcast and digital streams will be the same.

The switch will change the way ESPN reports viewership. Indeed, a final tabulation may not be available until as much as three weeks after a program airs, executives said. But the same is true of other Nielsen measures that help shape transactions. While many consumers and executives are focused on program ratings, the fact is that the industry now does business on “commercial ratings” that take into account the average viewership of commercial breaks up to as many as three or seven days after a show airs.

 

More TV

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Unveils Four More French Originals, 'Gims,' 'Anelka,' 'Move,' 'Of Earth And Blood'

    As it prepares to open a fully-staffed office in France and ramp up its investment in local originals, Netflix has unveiled three new documentaries, “Move” (working title), “Gims” (working title), and “Anelka” (working title), and the feature film “Of Earth And Blood” while at Series Mania in Lille. Announced during a panel with Netflix’s commissioning [...]

  • Charmed -- "Let This Mother Out"

    'Charmed' Showrunner Exits, Craig Shapiro & Elizabeth Kruger Board Series

    The CW’s reboot of “Charmed” is changing showrunners. Variety has learned that Carter Covington has stepped down as showrunner on the series, which has already been renewed for a second season. Husband and wife team Craig Shapiro and Elizabeth Kruger have been brought on to helm the series going forward. Shapiro and Kruger are currently [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Reese Witherspoon Jennifer

    What We Know About 'Amazing Stories' And Other Shows Coming to Apple TV+

    Viewers got a sneak peek of upcoming shows coming to Apple TV+, Apple’s newly unveiled streaming service, during the company’s live-streamed event in Cupertino, Calif., on Monday. The stars and creators of the most highly anticipated projects like Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” and “The Morning Show” from Reese Witherspoon appeared on stage to reveal more [...]

  • WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01

    Richard Gere Series 'MotherFatherSon' Sold to Multiple Territories

    BBC Studios, the British public broadcaster’s commercial arm, has announced a raft of territory sales for Richard Gere starrer “MotherFatherSon,” a drama series written by Tom Rob Smith, Emmy-nominated for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” The show will screen Tuesday at Series Mania, France, in the International Panorama section. Buyers for the eight-part thriller include [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases Trailer

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases Trailer for 'Special'

    In today’s roundup, Netflix releases a trailer for “Special,” and Wrestlemania’s main event will be a women’s match, a first in WWE history. FIRST LOOKS Netflix has released the trailer for its upcoming 15-minute comedy show “Special.” Ryan O’Connell stars in the semi-autobiographical series about life as a gay man with cerebral palsy. The series is [...]

  • Apple Event: Everything We Learned From

    Everything We Learned From Today's Apple Event

    After revealing new services in news, finance, and gaming, Apple CEO Tim Cook kept the biggest, most anticipated announcement until last. Cook, along with heads of worldwide video programming Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, and a whole group of Apple’s creative talents, presented the company’s new Apple TV+ streaming service, which is slated to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content