ESPN Posts Out-Of-Home Data

It’s a perennial debate in sports television. How many people watch sports in a bar or grouped at a friend’s house? And if that represents a big audience, should advertisers pay for the unmeasured segment? ESPN added to that debate this week when it released a study that says media planners are getting a bargain when the college audience tunes into sports.

According to the survey, 4.8 million college students enrolled at four-year colleges watch television out-of-home each week in locations not measured by Nielsen. This represents 55% of the estimated 8.8 million full-time college students enrolled in four-year schools in the U.S. For its own properties, more than one million different college students, or 13%, watch ESPN in out-of-home locations for an average of three hours per week in unmeasured, out-of-home locations. the survey also says that more than 76% watch ESPN in a college room at school, 12% watch in a bar/restaurant. ESPN's average quarter-hour audience among total college students increased an average of 80% with the inclusion of out-of-home viewing.



“College kids watch TV differently,” said ESPN SVP research and sales development Artie Bulgrin.

ESPN will conduct a second out-of-home survey this fall. It is expected to include more demographic groups. It will be released sometime in January or early February, according to Bulgrin. “More than half of them watch ad supported cable and they watch it in places that are not their primary residences, so they’re not eligible for Nielsen surveys. These kids go unmeasured.”

Bulgrin says he is not expecting to “create currency” by issuing the report, meaning that ESPN is not at this time looking to increase its rate base by including out-of-home numbers. He says advertisers such as Coors, Mountain Dew and AT&T have made ads more young and active in pursuit of the younger audience.

“I think the study is significant because everyone in this business has an interest in understanding the TV market,” Bulgrin said. “We know its more fragmented. But the younger audience certainly hasn’t been lost. It’s just unmeasured.”

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