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ESPN SportsCenter app rebranding boosts mobile consumers? power to choose content

ESPN?s renaming of its SportsCenter mobile application as ?ESPN? puts a standard name on the network?s top mobile properties while reducing the number of apps in its portfolio and increasing users? power to control their content choices.

When the SportsCenter app is rebranded next year, ahead of the holding of the SuperBowl, one of the world?s biggest sports-marketing events, ESPN?s No. 1 Web site, mobile Web site and app all will have the same name, allowing the network to combine its native application and Web development into one experience. The move shows how after years of experimentation with other formats, media organizations now put a higher priority on allowing users to personally select content over providing numerous specialized apps.

?ESPN is taking the next step to provide a unified experience that is designed to be frictionless across devices and ultimately allow the consumer the ability to personalize the experience based on interests and affinity to their favorite sports and teams,? said Tom Edwards, senior vice president for digital strategy and innovation with The Marketing Arm, Dallas.

?This approach can be compelling for fans and consumers as the experience is the same across devices and the more contextually relevant the experience, the greater potential to maintain the interest of the consumer.?

ESPN could not be reached for comment by press deadline.

Custom-designed consumption
The rebranding move leads up to the April 2015 launch of the new ESPN.com in the United States and Britain. The new site, currently in beta, will include a fully responsive design and features that will allow users to custom-design their sports news consumption and share material they like with others.

SportsCenter app.

From a mobile marketing perspective, by offering personalization in exchange for a profile of the individual, ESPN can begin to map multi-channel usage behaviors which can provide insights into how to further connect with their consumers and apply greater relevance to their ad products and partnerships. 

Self-selected and curated content is the new normal when it comes to consumer behavior and entertainment. ?Combine that with fan affinity for content about their favorite teams and it is important for content providers to allow users to control the experience,? Mr. Edwards said. ?This freedom and access can lead to increased frequency and retention if the content is compelling and relevant.? 

Ramping up
ESPN has spent the past few years ramping up its mobile offerings for fans and using the medium to drive user engagement.

Ramping up the brand name.

Its projects have included updating its March Madness ESPN Bracket Bound app for iPhone and Android devices, establishing its ESPN Alerts SMS program to receive real-time information on game standings and breaking news and launching an ESPN Fantasy Football iPad app.

?By providing a more contextually relevant experience that is unified across platforms, ESPN is setting the stage to maximize their reach with consumers and provide an always on solution that is consistent and personalized,? Mr. Edwards said. 

?From a mobile marketing perspective, by offering personalization in exchange for a profile of the individual, they can begin to map multi-channel usage behaviors which can provide insights into how to further connect with their consumers and apply greater relevance to their ad products and partnerships.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.