ESPN Goes Fishing For Affiliates, Ratings

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ESPN last week hosted 100 affiliates and their guests in Lake Placid, N.Y. — the site of its third annual Great Outdoor Games, set for July 20 through 23 on ESPN and ESPN2.

The trip gave affiliates the opportunity to experience the ESPN brand on a new level, vice president of marketing E.J. Conlin said. Participating cable operators were allowed to use the trip for employee recognition, ad-sales incentives or customer loyalty programs, she added.

In exchange for the trip, affiliates agreed to help ESPN drive ratings for the special by running cross-channel spots, using on-hold messages or sending bill stuffers.

Guests in Lake Placid last Wednesday night were treated to a private ESPY Awards
viewing party. That live telecast originated from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, where the network was hosting a separate affiliate trip.

Conlin admitted that the Lake Placid trip promotion received more interest in certain parts of the country than others, because the Great Outdoor Games "is a lesser known entity at this point."

The Great Outdoor Games features more than 200 human and canine athletes, in events such as sporting-dog retriever trials, bass fishing, archery and log rolling.

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