With the tournament now in the knockout round, ESPN put up a hat trick of solid numbers with its coverage of the group stage of Euro 2008 on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and on the programmer’s various digital properties.
Covering the tournament for the first time -- Euro 2004 was available via Setanta on pay-per-view both residentially (a $150 package) and commercially -- ESPN2 through the first 15 matches (June 17) averaged a 0.5 rating, 521,000 households and 655,000 viewers. Those numbers represented gains of 67%, 64% and 81%, respectively over the 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. time period that largely housed a pair of games, according to Nielsen Media Research data. The best match: Spain’s 2-0 win over Sweden drew a 0.9 rating and 1.01 million viewers on June 14.
On ESPN Deportes, live Euro 2008 matches averaged a 2.1 Hispanic coverage rating, the equivalent of 74,000 Latino homes, helping the network become the most-watched Spanish-language cable network for the first 11 days of the tourney with a total-day Hispanic coverage rating of a 0.8, said network officials.
Digitally, ESPN has also put a few in the back of the ‘Net. Executives said ESPNSoccernet.com averaged more than 1 million daily visitors, an 82% increase in daily visits to the site when compared to the same period during Euro 2004. It has also saw visits rise 216% over June 2007 and page-view advances of 239% and 29%, compared to June 2007 and Euro 2004, respectively. Additionally, the Soccernet mobile WAP site, which launched the first day of the tourney, has attracted more than 500,000 users who have generated more than 5.75 million page views.
ESPNdeportes.com is pacing to have its biggest month ever -- on pace for a 139% increase in page views and to break the traffic record set in May.
Moreover with ESPN360.com providing live and replay coverage of every match, Euro 2008 has already notched several top 10-live events for the broadband service and is on pace to become its most-watched multi-event, excluding college football and basketball's regular seasons.
All of which is making ESPN vice president of programming Scott Guglielmino happy. Although he wouldn’t discuss benchmarks, he did say the company was “very pleased” with results to date. “We have a big commitment to soccer in the U.S. and around the globe. And this event is attracting a lot of interest,” he said. ESPN also has Euro 2008 rights in Canada and Latin America.
He said Euro 2008 is in keeping with ESPN’s goal of providing sports fans with coverage of big events on whatever platform they preferred, emphasizing ESPN360.com’s capabilities to deliver matches simultaneously and in archival form.
Guglielmino noted the matches on ESPN Deportes are not only proving popular with soccer-centric Hispanics, but the tournament is providing “halo effect” for related studio fare and news programming.
“Anything that allows us to overlay our brands and put our talent before audiences is key to helping drive growth,” he said.
Guglielmino wouldn’t discuss if ESPN held an option or if it possessed an exclusive negotiating window for a European Football Championships renewal, but did say “we’re always talking to UEFA. We have the Champions League through 2009. I think there is a lot of interest on both sides.”