NEWS22 March 2010

ESPN reveals team sheet for 2010 World Cup research project

New business North America

US— Sports broadcaster ESPN has put together a team of four research companies for an ambitious project called ESPN XP to measure media usage and the impact of advertising across all media channels amid this year’s football World Cup in South Africa.

With echoes of NBC’s multi-media research project conducted during the Winter Olympics, ESPN aims to track people’s consumption of TV, radio, internet, mobile and print media surrounding the sporting event, which kicks off in 80 days’ time.

However, ESPN draws a distinction with past cross-media initiatives for being ‘one-offs’. “Measuring the World Cup is only the first project in a series of quarterly projects to fall under the ESPN XP umbrella,” the company said in a statement.

“ESPN will take the best of what is learned from the World Cup and apply it to football in the fall and other sports during 2011. The goal is to create a scalable research plan to measure cross-media audiences 12 months out of the year by 2012.”

XP’s research team line-up sees Nielsen handling the bulk of the audience measurement duties. The ratings giant will be tracking TV, internet and mobile audiences and determining advertiser exposure across all platforms. The Keller Fay Group, has been tasked with measuring and analysing word-of-mouth conversations related to brands sponsoring ESPN content during the World Cup, while Knowledge Networks will be using its Total Touch method to measure weekly and total exposure to the World Cup across all platforms, including live viewing, time-shifted viewing and out-of-home consumption.

The Media Behaviour Institute is also on hand with its USA Touchpoints survey (announced earlier this month). Rounding out the team is the Interactive Media Initiative of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, which has been hired by ESPN to build a predictive model to understand and project multichannel consumption habits of the broadcaster’s audience across digital properties.

Artie Bulgrin, ESPN’s senior vice president of research and analytics, said: “ESPN XP represents a major step forward in our commitment to further advance our knowledge about multi-media use, and the total and incremental impact it has on our clients’ media campaigns.”