ESPN details mobile strategy for 2010 Winter X Games
ESPN is targeting action sports fans with a multifaceted mobile strategy surrounding Winter X Games 14 in Aspen, CO, which runs through Sunday, Jan. 31.
In addition to the mobile site at XGames.com featuring the latest news, event information and athlete bios, ESPN has launched the X Games SnoCross mobile game for Apple?s iPhone and iPod touch featuring X Games medalists Levi LaVallee and Heath Frisby. ESPN is using its own mobile Web and in-application ad inventory to promote the SnoCross game.
?We?ve done pretty extensive integrated messaging campaigns with the X Games featuring more mobile offerings than we?ve done with any other ESPN brand, as it relates to voting for the outcome via SMS, having a mobile spectator guide that people use when they?re at the event and text-to-screen on-site,? said Oke Okaro, vice president of mobile products at ESPN, Bristol, CT.
?One of our goals for X Games mobile initiatives is increasing time spent with the X Games brand, and mobile plays into that very nicely, because it?s a device you carry around with you all the time,? he said. ?Mobile also over-indexes with the X Games target audience, primarily consumers ages 12-17, but also strong dose of 18-34.
?We think about mobile as being a great way to engage X Games fans in three ways, those people attending, those people watching on TV and those people who are displaced, on the go.?
During an exclusive one-on-one interview, an ESPN executive chatted about the sports network's mobile strategy and discussed mobile advertisers such as automaker Lexus and gaming giant EA (see story).
ESPN digital media executives stressed that mobile is a key component of the sports network's overall multichannel portfolio of products and services and will only grow in importance going forward (see story).
The company said that its mobile traffic surpasses its PC traffic at times and in response it is continuing to expand its mobile initiatives (see story).
X-treme mobile gaming
For a Winter X Games experience through the convenience of a mobile device, the new X Games SnoCross mobile game application for iPhone and iPod Touch devices, developed in conjunction with 2XL Games, is available for $4.99 in the iTunes App Store.
Players get to experience the action snow sport virtually through console-like graphics and interactive features. Players can attempt tricks such as double-back flips on a snowmobile.
Users have the option to play as their own avatars or as X Games medalists LaVallee and Frisby, both designed with their own custom sled designs.
The game challenges players through six unique tracks, including the WX14 snocross course, plus two additional freestyle levels and an X Games Championship mode.
Community features include a WiFi multiplayer mode with up to five opponents plus game statistics and leader boards via http://live.2xlgames.com.
A live ESPN sports feed ticker also highlights the latest news.
?This year we introduced an iPhone game, and it?s the first time we?re doing a high-quality twitch game,? Mr. Okaro said. ?The SnoCross game is great for iPhone and iPod touch gamers.
?It?s a great opportunity to serve X Games fans with a high-quality snowmobiling game, which we saw that as void in the market,? he said. ?There is only one other snowmobiling game in the App Store, but we feel ours is superior.?
Exclusive mobile features and tools
The ESPN mobile Web site has a dedicated Winter X Games portal.
During the event, fans can go to http://espn.mobi/wx for WX14 results, schedules and a new photo slideshow daily.
ESPN sells Winter X Games wallpapers and ringtones sold directly through http://XGames.com/Cell.
ESPN is also running extensive SMS initiatives such as updates and alerts.
Spectator fans in Aspen can text the keyword ACTION to the short code 43776 to opt in to receive customizable event updates for schedules, athlete information, results, venue information, X Fest events and general news.
Similar to ACTION Updates, fans not traveling to Aspen can text X to 43776 and opt-in to receive TV schedules, XGames.com updates, athlete information and competition results.
Video boards at WX14 in Aspen include a text crawl made up of live fan comments and athlete shout-outs sent via text message.
Fans in attendance use their mobile phones to vote for which songs will be played by the venue DJ or to answer trivia to win prizes provided by sponsors.
Apple users can learn how to download the new SnoCross game by texting SNO to 43776.
Apple iTunes content
Action sports fans looking for more multimedia content such as video, films, music, podcasts and applications can find it all in one place on the iTunes Winter X Games landing page at http://itunes.com/WinterXGames.
The iTunes landing page featuers Winter X 14 video featuring day-by-day highlights and the Best of WX14 compilations, as well as eight episodes of Winter X 13 Classix video.
Feature films include Disney's X Games: The Movie, Shaun White: Don't Look Down and Moto X: Evolution of the Trick.
The iTunes portal has athlete music playlists with descriptions from Xavier Bertoni, Andrew Comrie-Picard and Anthony Napolitan, as well as music playlists from ESPN?s on-air production titled As Heard at X.
Other features include action sports podcasts and a call-to-action asking consumers to download the X Games SnoCross game.
On-site, fans will be alerted to the various interactive elements using the PA system and the video boards that are placed throughout the venue.
ESPN is displaying large posters with a mobile call-to-action in the athlete lounge, VIP tent and press center, as well as hand cards distributed at various on-site venues.
In addition to live comments and music selections, there is a rotating Jumbotron promotion asking attendees to text in to win prizes from WX14 sponsors.
The Winter X Games 14 Broadcast on ESPN and ESPN 2 will feature a preview of in-game footage to promote the SnoCross game and its touch-screen user interface.
ESPN will place run-of-site advertising to promote the mobile game on XGames.com and ESPN.com/Action.
The SnoCross game has a permanent partner box on XGames.com featuring the game icon, a link to download the game, a link to in-game assets and the leader board.
Run-of-site ads for the SnoCross game will also appear within ESPN iPhone applications such as ScoreCaster, the ESPN mobile Web site and inclusion in "More from ESPN" within other ESPN iPhone applications.
To encourage viral word-of-mouth spread, there will be pre-event, during-event and post-event product announcements, posts and contests on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
ESPN has also posted a game highlight video playlist at YouTube.com/Xgames.
In-game brand partners such as Redbull will promote the game through various efforts, including Web posts, social networking posts, email blasts and inserts in outgoing orders.
?Given that it?s a new medium, we have the opportunity to figure out how we can drive value for advertisers,? Mr. Okaro said. ?The SnoCross iPhone game is being featured by Apple.
?We have an extensive marketing plan for this, including integration on site, inventory that was allocated from the X Games Web site we?re using to promote it, and we?re promoting this app within the other ESPN apps in the marketplace,? he said.
?ESPN ScoreCenter has achieved more than 4.5 million downloads and our mobile Web site get a lot of traffic, so those both have valuable inventory we are using.?