The Biggest ‘Players’ In Digital Video Report Big Wins

Sports brands lead the pack in video viewership, with ESPN carrying most of the load.


magazine media 360 chartIt comes as no surprise that ESPN dominates the world of digital sports video. But there is a deeper story here than just TV-driven interest. May’s Magazine Media 360º Brand Audience report reveals that sports is the largest video category with 12.2 million monthly uniques tuning in. ESPN has a commanding lead of the market share at 73%, but it obviously gets a huge lift from its TV audience. The brand insists, however, that this market dominance is not mere TV tonnage—but as much a matter of careful calibration.

Alison Overholt, editor-in-chief of ESPN the Magazine and espnW, says digital “is not something we do, it’s something we are.” That means coordination across print and digital.

That means coordination across print and digital. Likening it to how defense wins games, not eye-grabbing dunks, she says “It’s not the sexy stuff to talk about. We are relentless about improving process and communication between our many editors and producers.”

In fact this is one of the months when print really does drive inordinate interest in the brand—the annual “Body issue.” “That’s meant day-by-day, minute-by-minute rollout plans for whose covers or interviews or videos or social stories to release on which channels, at what moment of the day, and with specific alerts via the app, to maximize connections with fans.”

For ESPN, that cross-platform synergy can also produce some creative monetization results. This year’s Body Issue cover was shot with an iPhone 7, something that got the issue special traction in the press but also advertiser Apple echoed in its own back cover ad.

And while Sports Illustrated’s 17% of the sports video viewership may seem dwarfed by its perennial rival, its video strategy has been in serious growth mode for more than a year. Any look at its main page will see most stories now carry video elements, and the persistent video player follows users as they scroll.

SI tells min that, according to its counting, actual video views have increased at SI 230% year-over-year for the first half of 2017, and it has already surpassed all of the views rendered in 2016 by 42%. On-site video viewing alone is up 39% in Q2.

Sports Illustrated social has been a key distribution channel for streaming media and where it has seen some of the most explosive expansion. While video views on Facebook are up 114% in the second quarter year-over-year, the brand is being very aggressive in the emerging video venues. Its Instagram video views are up 4,139% and Twitter video views up 4,567%.

And while Condé Nast’s Golf Digest (8% category share) is far ahead of rival (also part of Time Inc.’s Sports Group), Time Inc. says it is seeing the Golf brand’s video coverage also expand by triple digits on social (up 303% YoY Q2 views on Facebook, up 212% on Instagram, up 623% on Twitter).



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