ESPN’s Stellar Six Months

We’re halfway through 2024, and ESPN has myriad successes to celebrate.

“The first half of 2024 reinforced the effectiveness of our clear, go-forward strategy,” Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN, said. “Initiatives like Venu Sports’ forthcoming launch, the opening of ESPN BET’s first retail sportsbook and our Disney collaboration for NHL Big City Greens Classic 2 were all examples of how we’re smartly navigating a changing landscape.”

Once you have gotten a taste of all that ESPN has achieved this year, you can head over to ESPN Front Row for a full detailed, interactive rundown of the best coming out of Bristol.

Here’s the highlights of some of the biggest wins from ESPN.

Best Talent

ESPN is known for top on-air talent who offer expert analysis in the world of sports. From the recently re-signed Shannon Sharpe to notable new additions to the ESPN team — legendary football coach Nick Saban and retired NFL star Jason Kelce — ESPN platforms will continue to feature the top voices in the industry.

And that’s not to mention the long-term extension reached with Omaha Productions to continue Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, which expands original content initiatives with the Manning Brothers, among other initiatives.

Exclusive Content

As a result of its broad reach — on television, digital, social and direct-to-consumer — ESPN continues to be a premier location for sports leagues to present their live events and additional content.

The year started off with a jolt when ESPN secured a new eight-year NCAA rights agreement for 40 championship events annually. Its leadership in the collegiate sports arena was expanded when the network reached an exclusive extension with the expanded College Football Playoff through the 2031-32 season.

All Eyes on Bristol

The excellence of the broadcasts and insights has resulted in record viewership this year. In January, ESPN concluded Monday Night Football’s most-watched season in 23 years and the College Football Playoff’s highest viewership in five years.

ESPN also continued its leadership as the home of women’s college basketball, with the most watched regular season since 2008-09. During the NCAA Tournament, ESPN televised its most-watched college basketball game ever and the most-watched women’s college basketball game ever on record – 18.9 million viewers. That was quickly followed up by the largest audience ever for the WNBA Draft.

As well, ESPN delivered the most-watched NCAA Softball Women’s College World Series Final series on record with 2 million viewers in June.

And that’s in addition to other recent wins, like the NBA Draft, and the Stanley Cup Finals.

Digital Strength

ESPN Digital continues to set records. ESPN digital had both its best January and February in terms of unique visitors, with 121.7 million and 103.4 million viewers, respectively.

So far this year, when combining ESPN digital with the brand’s social platforms, they reach 65% of the U.S. adult population monthly.

Key Firsts

ESPN breaks boundaries, too. Doris Burke made history as the first woman to serve as a television game analyst for a championship final in one of the four major men’s U.S. sports leagues when she called the NBA Finals in June.

Doris Burke during game three of the 2024 NBA Finals.

ESPN has also maintained its leadership in original programming; continuing its award-winning 30 for 30 series, and pushing into new areas, like its timely Full Court Press series focusing on the top women’s college basketball stars.

ESPN also saw growth in the sports betting market, as ESPN BET has been making its way into new states across the country, such as launching in North Carolina in March and the first ESPN BET-branded sportsbook and restaurant opens in Detroit.

Innovating for the Future

Looking ahead to the coming months, Pitaro highlighted a bevy of moments that ESPN will have a key hand in distributing and producing for audiences.

“Coming up, we have Wimbledon, In the Arena: Serena Williams, The 2024 ESPYS, the WNBA Finals, MLB’s Home Run Derby, the US Open, Venu Sports’ forthcoming launch, Monday Night Football, the debut of our SEC on ABC package,” Pitaro said. “Plus new, innovative content and features across and ESPN Apps and more.”

ESPN is preparing for the future in a quickly shifting media landscape. Venu Sports — from ESPN, Fox and Warner Brothers Discovery — aims to create a new offering with its scheduled launch in the fall.

Also coming this fall, there’s the launch of the ESPN tile on Disney+. That will allow streaming customers to sample sports within Disney’s branded and general entertainment offerings.

And that’s all on top of some of one of the most exciting innovations coming next — the launch of ESPN’s Flagship direct-to-consumer product. Expected in the fall of 2025, sports fans will have an extended world-class direct-to-consumer experience from the brand that serves sports fans, anytime, and anywhere — ESPN.

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