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ESPN reaches millennials with X Games extreme mobile redesign

ESPN launched a redesigned Web site for extreme sporting event the X Games in celebration of its 20th anniversary, providing mobile responsiveness to better connect with a millennial demographic.

The re-launch focuses on content that is viewable on all platforms, especially on mobile with an emphasis on high quality image and video content due to the visual aspect of the games. The games are a large part of pop culture in younger demographics and the extreme sports fanatic is always on the go, which is why the focus on mobile and social media is imperative. 

"Our audience, particularly the people living and breathing action sports, is hardly tethered to their computers," said Mary Fenton, associate director of digital content strategy at ESPN X Games. "They are, however, Instagramming tricks, exotic locales, just your run-of-the-mill dream lives. 

"So it was important for us to capture that essence," she said. "The old site was built for a different time and a different purpose and the new site represents a shift in content philosophy for a new technological era. 

"Users do not come back to websites or apps that are overly complicated, busy or not clearly purposeful. We want to create compelling content and deliver it on a silver platter so people want to come back."

The site lives on ESPN technology and the mobile responsiveness allows for seamless viewing of video content featuring sponsors such as Ford in banner ads. Tabs allow users to search and browse popular athletes in varied sports events and recent or upcoming events in Aspen and Austin along with highlights, ticket purchases and other details. 

All features of the site incorporate video because the brand is aware of the demographic?s lure to these radical sports and athleticism. An interactive schedule showcases visual content such as upcoming promo clips as well as past highlights. 

Not only do millennials gravitate towards mobile, now the demographic has come to expect it. Being that this is the X Games? main fan base, it is essential for it to have gone mobile-first. 

"Millennials are the first fully digital generation and are always connected, so brands that want to engage them need to understand their consumption habits," said Amy Leavitt, product-marketing director at Briabe Mobile. "Millennials expect to have the content they crave consistently available at their fingertips so they can browse, watch, and share on-the-go. 

"By creating a mobile-first experience, ESPN is ensuring that it reaches its targeted X-Games audience on the platforms they utilize most, their mobile phones and tablets," she said. "Three out of every four millennials own a smartphone, not prioritizing mobile would mean not prioritizing its key demographic."

The site integrates with all social media channels as well as a focus on shareable high quality content and a prevalent aggregation feed that integrates real-time posts from prominent individuals in social media and the extreme sports world. 

The X Games redesign access a wide-range of consumers with a multi-platform approach

X Games? mobile optimized site also features content from ABC coverage of the games as well as an original series titled the Real Series, athlete profiles, features and coverage of amateur skateboarding series Boardr Am.

Mobile celebration
Not only does this mark the 20th anniversary for the X Games but April marked ESPN?s 20th anniversary as well, which was also celebrated with a responsive site, reflecting the sports network?s embrace of a mobile-first approach that aims to deliver a consistent, personal experience for highly engaged fans (see more).

A focus on mobile is imperative for sports brands such as ESPN and also Major League Baseball, whose official mobile application, MLB At Bat, reached 5 million downloads before the season?s first pitch was thrown, a record for the eight-year-old platform and pointing to mobile?s ability to enhance the consumption of sports events (see more).

It was vitally important for the X Games site redesign to incorporate mobile in order to be the extreme sports hub for which it aims.  

"While I can not say whether or not the redesign will be successful, incorporating a design that focuses on mobile and social media sets ESPN on the ideal path to best reach the targeted audience," said Ms. Leavitt. "A recent report said that millennials spend almost 15 hours a week texting, talking, and accessing social media on their smartphones. 

"Mobile and social are clearly the preferred channel for the digitally native millennial group, so focusing heavily on those two areas during the redesign process should bring the results ESPN is looking for," she said.

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily