ESPN Hangs Multimedia Sales On Events

To sell advertisers on the high level of interaction between sports fans and ESPN, the network is introducing its first “convergence calendar” to upfront negotiations this year.

ESPN has built into next season’s schedule eight major sports “events” that drive viewers from the TV to the Web and e-mail and allow advertisers to multi-media plans around them.

“Not all mediums are right for the client,” said Tom McGovern, director of sports marketing at OMD/USA, referring to media buyers? reticence to integrated media plans. But focusing on specific events instead of media “is probably the most effective way to present it to the advertiser,” he said.

Thus far the NFL draft, the NCAA selection process and the Bowl Championship series have been put on the calendar.

Though ESPN has pushed cross-platform ad packages for the last few years, the calendar idea was spurred by the increased use of TV and the Web during the events.

“The sports fan has become more adept at multi-tasking and we want to capture the progression,” said Ed Erhardt, president, ESPN/ ABC Sports customer marketing and sales. In addition, the game show Two-Minute Drill, which is being equipped with Enhanced TV in the fall, will join the calendar.