×
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.

 

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Sarah Silverman I Love You America

    Sarah Silverman Sets New HBO Comedy Special, Late-Night Series Pilot

    Sarah Silverman is headed to HBO. The comedian has signed a deal for a new comedy special with the premium cabler, with HBO also giving Silverman a pilot order for a late-night series. The news comes less than a year after Hulu canceled Silverman’s Emmy-nominated talk show “I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman” after [...]

  • Succession

    'Succession': Is Kendall a Killer Yet? Brian Cox Thinks So

    The Roys set sail aboard a refitted yacht in the Mediterranean in the Season 2 finale of ‘Succession’ Sunday, but it is hardly a vacation. Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox) gathers his family (including Gerri, among others) to figure out whose head would be put on a stake as Waystar Royco’s sacrificial lamb offering [...]

  • Patrick Moran

    Former ABC Studios Head Patrick Moran Signs Amazon Overall Deal

    Patrick Moran has signed an overall deal with Amazon, Variety has learned. The news comes around three months after it was announced that Moran would be exiting his role as president of ABC Studios following restructuring in the wake of the Disney-21st Century Fox merger. Under his new deal, Moran will work with Amazon Studios to [...]

  • Atresmedia-Studios-and-ITV-Studios-logos

    ITV Studios, Atresmedia Studios Co-develop New Family Format

    ITV Studios and Atresmedia Studios are joining forces to co-develop new gameshow format “Trust Me I’m A Six-Year-old.” The format will see celebrities go head-to-head across four competitive rounds, where their only guidance comes from a group of rowdy kids with their inimitable style of instruction. From undercover pranks to hilarious physical challenges, the celebrity [...]

  • love-island

    Glance Analyzes Young Adult Audience Consumption

    CANNES — What excites young adult audiences? Three answers are authenticity,entertainment and the environment,  according to a Glance study presented Monday at Cannes Mipcom trade show. The presentation also underscored radical changes in TV consumption now sweeping not just the U..S and U.K. but now major territories in Western Europe. Five takeaways: 1.Authenticity This “relates [...]

  • 'Watchmen,' 'Arrow' and More What To Watch This

    What to Watch on TV This Week: 'Watchmen' Debuts, 'Arrow' Returns for Final Season

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, the highly anticipated “Watchmen” premieres on HBO, and “Arrow” returns for its eighth [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content