How ESPN’s College Football Megacast Can Impact Your 2016 Marketing Plan

ESPN offered 15 different viewing and listening choices for the 2016 college football championship game last night.

Read on for six business and marketing lessons of Megacast.

What Is Megacast

In addition to its flagship channel, college football fans, general sports fans and the media-technology-curious were able to explore other game experiences across ESPN’s television network, on radio, and/or mobile via the Watch ESPN and ESPN apps such as:

  • Film Room, ESPN Voices, Homer Telecast, Spider Cam, Pylon Cam and more.

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Why ESPN Does Megacast

First, it’s about engaging with the customer. This is a core part of ESPN’s marketing and programming strategy.

Second, it’s about branding. ESPN created a branded event (Megacast) to help promote another event, the college football championship game. The Megacast concept supports, reinforces and is consistent with the overall ESPN brand.

What Does Megacast Mean to Marketing Teams

To get started, ask these questions:

  • What does the customer want?
  • What information does the customer need to make a purchase decision?
  • How can we deliver that information in a relevant, timely, interesting, perhaps unique way, and profitably?

6 Business and Marketing Lessons

  1. Before Anything Else, Have a Plan!  If you think Megacast isn’t tightly integrated into ESPN’s overall strategy and programming plans, stop reading now.
  2. Embrace Creativity. Just because you don’t have 15 different communication platforms doesn’t mean there aren’t effective, creative ways to implement your business strategy and marketing plans. Be willing to find them.
  3. Leverage Marketing and Content Assets. You probably have, or could have, more communication assets than you realize. Use them if they make sense.
  4. Target and Connect with Different Customer Segments. ESPN wanted to achieve a broad and deep audience penetration with Megacast, and the 15 event choices opened avenues into segments such as millennials, gamers and TV cord-cutters.
  5. Evaluate how Technology Can Support Your Plan. Yes it can, but remember point 1 to avoid catching a bad case of “shiny new thing” syndrome.
  6. Testing and Experimenting are Important. This was year 3 of the Megacast concept and ESPN added new features. Consider exploring something new in every marketing plan.

Good Stuff, But Beware

ESPN is in the entertainment business. It’s part of their legacy name (entertainment and sports programming network).

That’s why several of the Megacast choices were more gimmick than substance. Take Pylon Cam. Really, a whole platform for that? Who could watch that for more than a few seconds, especially when the main broadcast on ESPN nicely integrated pylon camera shots when appropriate. The Mock Replay Booth was similar for a one-time “what is this all about” look-see.

ESPN can afford to incorporate some of these gimmicks as part of the overall event creation and hype. You probably can’t, and shouldn’t anyway, so remember:

  • Avoid Gimmicks for Gimmicks Sake. Be careful with your version of Pylon Cam and Mock Replay Booth.
  • Balance Entertainment versus Substance. Megacast had a variety of entertainment options, but to really enjoy the football action, there was the substance of ESPN’s flagship television channel.

Oh, by the way. However, you took in the game last night, what a treat. Alabama 45, Clemson 40.

Harvey Chimoff is a versatile marketing and business team leader who believes good marketing sells. Contact him at harveychimoff dot com.

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