The ESPN brand constitutes a wide range of sports entertainment and discussion across many different media types. For consumers, it is a readily accessible source of information that is automatically associated with high quality sporting entertainment. Consumers are aware that any product that bears the ESPN brand will have detailed and significant information about sports.
3. The core benefit of ESPN is the ability for consumers to access a wide range of information concerning any sport or sporting event they are interested in, as well as entertainment, due to the manner in which much of this information is presented (such as podcasts and television discussions).
In essence, ESPN’s product is the availability of sports knowledge, discussion as well as video and audios of live games, across a wide variety of platforms. At its heart ESPN is a 24-hour cable network that focuses on sports and entertainment based content for television, however the cable network is only one piece of the entire ESPN brand. The brand now contains more than 50 different businesses. Product wise, the brand consists of six cable channels which are home to many important sporting events such as the IndyCar Series and NBA finals, a sports radio network, ESPN The Magazine and a website that offers streaming video and audio as well as downloadable pods casts.
ESPN’s augmented product is its ability to provide accurate and up to date information and commentary about all areas of the sports industry and its delivery of this information across many different media types
4. ESPN has strong brand equity. Its name is immediately associated with sports, and the easy access to information that the brand provides across its many different platforms ensures wide recognition from consumers.
There is a strong relationship between the brand equity of ESPN and its brand value. The value of its brand can be seen by large number of products and media that ESPN is present on, the continued growth of the company and its longevity. The cable network alone earns close to twice the amount per subscriber each month than the next most profitable network, Fox Sports ($2.91 and $1.67 respectively).
5. ESPN and ABC:
Benefits: This association has resulted in the acquisition of many new viewers and gave the network the ability to host key sporting events, and types of sporting events that they did not previously have access to.
Possible risks: Loss of fans as a consequence of the shift and the name change. Dilution of the brand, as broadcasts on this channel are associated with ABC as well as ESPN.
ESPN and NBA
ESPN has been working with the NBA to produce co-branded merchandise and apparel for the NBA playoffs.
Benefits: This effort serves to promote ESPN coverage of the NBA and to suggest that content that ESPN produces on the NBA will be of high quality because of the relationship between the two groups.
Possible risks: ESPN has little control over the quality of the merchandise that is produced, and any negative responses to the cobranded merchandise will have a negative reflection on the ESPN brand as a whole.
ESPN and Broadband Sports
Broadband sports have joined with ESPN to create an Athletes Channel on the ESPN website, ESPN.com
Benefits: Increased exposure of the ESPN brand.
Possible risks: Creating a cobranded channel reduces the control that ESPN has on the content of its website.
6. Successful brand development involves the integration of a number of key strategies. Brand development involves the production of a unified image of product purpose that is consistent across different advertising media. Development of a brand also requires an understanding of the customer base which the brand is targeting. A brand may often be successfully developed by creating associations between the brand and a particular activity.
In the case of ESPN, clear associations are made between the brand and sports in general, if you watch sports then you watch ESPN, this is the message that is portrayed through their branding and their advertising. For ESPN, the targeted customer base is the demographic of males aged between 18 and 34. To target this group, the brand has been specifically designed towards interests of this demographic, with advertisements for the brand emphasizing the entertainment value in their portfolio of products as well as the wealth of sports information available. As the company’s portfolio has expanded, so too has their brand, so that it now includes a wide range of different products including mobile phone web pages, magazines and the broad television network. To enhance the idea of the brand being associated with sports and entertainment, ESPN is involved in event management of sports focused events, the production of video games and instructional DVDs and stores which sell physical branded products from ESPN. All of these strategies have significantly helped to grow the ESPN brand.
The ESPN brand continues to grow, with the creation of new brand associations and associations with different locations such as airports and health clubs, where these are beginning to play ESPN content. As a consequence, the brand continues to be exposed to a larger audience, increasing the strength of the brand and the company and consequently increasing the revenue of the brand. For the future, it is important that the brand remains distinct, and does not become so merged in with other brands as a consequence of co-branding that it loses its own identity. The distinct identity of the ESPN brand is responsible for much of the success of the brand today. This could be done by increasing focus on the core divisions of the brand, such as television networks and the magazine.