Website Issues: What next for ESPN?

Transfer rumours in sport are what capture the imagination of fans and causes us to dream. In particular, high profile moves such as the ‘Mourinho to United’ saga not only grips Manchester, and England, but the whole world.

However, having read and very much agreed with Mulhern’s (2009) journal ‘Integrated Marketing Communications: From media channels to digital connectivity’ it comes as a shock that, in 2016, sports fans can’t get the information they desire within a click of their fingers.

With competitors such as BBC Sport and Sky Sports, you’d think that a renowned site like ESPN would have an exciting and appealing website in order to compete. However, the layout is poor, interesting information such as fixtures is hidden in plain text, and the irritating structure with 2 scroll down bars frustrates digital users in an age where everything should be incredibly easy. (See below).

ESPN bar
bbc sport
BBC Sport






It’s a great shame as the articles on the site are very well written and include great content such as pictures and videos – the kind of thing readers want access to. In such a competitive market, every detail matters, and as Mulhern (2009) states “In a digital era, the viewpoint of media as communications channels cannot be sustained. One reason is that there are too many communication channels now available for any media planner to effectively allocate communications across them.” This reinforces my argument that every detail matters, because a sports fan can jump ship to your competitors within a matter of seconds, this is due to the sheer number of websites and social media pages available, and the number of devices that allow access to them such as phones, tablets, and laptops.

The articles on ESPN are a great read, however the platform the site provides them to the reader on needs updating, as the same articles would get far more views on less complicated sites such as BBC Sport.

A reasonably new competitor to the market is BT Sport. They’ve shaken things up with exclusive video content, and professional insights through expert guests on their entertainment show ‘Rugby Tonight’.

Diode Digital found that video promotion is 600% more effective than print and direct mail combined. They also found that, before reading any text, 60% of site visitors will watch a video if available (Hangwon, 2014). Therefore, sports organisations should be exploiting this and provide a number of videos to capture the attention of sports fans. Again, BT Sport do this particularly well as there is a large selection of videos available in a neat layout. In contrast, the ESPN website requires the viewer to scroll and find the content, as opposed to the content finding them. (See below).

bt sport videos
Neat video layout on the BT Sport homepage.
espn video
Attractive, large video, however choice is limited – what about other sports?

As a result, ESPN need to re-model. In my opinion, they should use the ‘sizzle’ aspect of Chaffey and Smith’s (2008) theory of the 5 S’s because not only do they need to meet the standards set by their competitors, but they also need to offer sports fans something new and unique. This also links to the theory of the 6 I’s by Chaffey and Ellis (2012) as ‘Individualisation’ is a key component of digital marketing – look at the unique style of Paddy Power’s Twitter account for example. Individualisation is also an important benefit of interactive marketing because it allows marketers to build specific customer profiles based on their internet habits. This enables them to target tailored adverts to the consumer.

Will Wood, Leeds Beckett University, Sport Marketing Student


BT Sport (2016) How to perfect the pendulum. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 11 February 2016].

Hangwon (2014) Just the stats: The science of video engagement. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 11 February 2016].

Mulhern, F. (2009) Integrated marketing communications: From media channels to digital connectivity. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 11 February 2016].

Smith, P.R. and Chaffey, D. (2008) eMarketing eXcellence: at the heart of eBusiness. Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford, UK. 3rd edition

Chaffey, D., And Ellis-Chadwick, F (2012). Digital marketing: Strategy. 17(3), pp.267-281.



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