ESPN is the top international, multimedia sports entertainment company containing the largest collection of multimedia sports assets, owning more than 50 business entities. The company’s headquarters is located in Bristol, Connecticut and employs over 4,000 people (7,000 worldwide). 80% of ESPN is owned by ABC, an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, while the Hearst Corporation holds the remaining 20% ownership of ESPN. Since 2014 ESPN’s Miami office has been a valued sponsor of The LAB Miami and the following is a candid interview with Alfonso Cueto, Senior Director at ESPN- Latin America.
What is your role in ESPN and how long have you been working for the company?
I have been with ESPN for 15 years and currently serve as Sr. Director of Multimedia Sales for Latin America. My role involves running the ESPN Latin America Advertising sales team based in Miami.
The Miami team is responsible for selling advertising to the Miami Latin America Pan Regional community, as well as any international client based outside of Latin America, that wants to buy into this region. We work with a lot of clients from the US, Europe, and Asia. Our team has several different departments under the sales umbrella including, Multimedia Sales, Revenue Management (planning), TV Operations, Digital Operations, Creative Solutions, and Research.
What is ESPN’s involvement in The LAB Miami and what value do you extract from your sponsorship?
ESPN has always positioned itself as forward thinking and innovative. ESPN has always valued the multi-platform approach, in order to serve their fans anytime, anywhere across any device. We wanted to support The Lab, and innovative thinking not only in Miami, but also with an eye towards Latin America. We use the space to invite clients in order to brainstorm potential innovative and complex campaigns. In a way, take them out of their normal surroundings of a corporate environment, in order to absorb and spur creativity. We have also used the space to present specific initiatives that can change our business for the better. For example we created a new post buy software together with Techedge that will revolutionize the speed and efficiency from which agencies can confirm their cable buys performance. We also see some of our key partners, such as Havas Media, also utilizing the space in a similar fashion, which means we are all thinking along the same lines.
How is ESPN evolving as a company in order to stay relevant and competitive?
ESPN has always been a bit ahead of the curve in terms of technology, whether being one of the first TV companies to have HD, or Broadband service that allow fans to watch live sports across any device. We were also the first to really invest in a strong digital platform.
I think our biggest goal moving forward is how we can evolve from an advertising perspective, and improve our targeting using fan data. We are in the process of launching digital advertising that connects fans team or player interest, with the outcome of live sports, and integrating a brands’ message in a tactful and result oriented way, based on their sports interest.
How do you see the media industry changing in the digital age?
Targeting is an obvious thing to point at, but ultimately it comes down to access, and being able to connect on the go. ESPN has the advantage of being fairly balanced on both the TV and digital spaces. The US is seeing some impressive viewership numbers from its broadband service WatchESPN, especially on the OTT’s (viewers must be authenticated through a cable operator).
What are the biggest challenges that face ESPN?
At least from an advertising perspective, through the digital revolution, there are more players nipping at the same budgets.
By Claudio Otaduy and Alberto Córdoba June 30, 2016