- ESPN is launching ESPN Creator Network, providing up-and-coming content creators with access to ESPN's sports properties and resources. Front Office Sports first reported the news.
- The first iteration will feature 10 creators and focus on TikTok. It will begin in October and run for about four months. The creator network is a partnership with social-led content agency Blue Hour Studios.
- The ESPN Creator Network follows similar efforts by other publishers and social platforms that are seeking to engage with Gen Z by boosting support for content creators.
The ESPN Creator Network allows the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" to engage with Gen Z consumers by boosting the people they trust most: content creators on social media platforms. The move follows an industry-wide push to elevate creators as a way to pursue a generation of ad-weary consumers that are difficult to reach through traditional channels.
“What we’re continuing to see from our sports community on social channels increasingly is this gravitation toward first-person, authentic content creation," ESPN's vice president of social media Kaitee Daley told Front Office Sports.
With the creator network, ESPN is looking to engage with niche sport fan communities on Instagram and TikTok, where the network has more than 26 million followers. While creators will not be compensated, they will be provided with travel, tickets, access, equipment, a series of learning courses and discretion over how they program their channels.
Brands are increasingly shifting budgets to creator-driven marketing campaigns, with 66% spending more on this area in the past year compared with previous years, according to a CreatorIQ and Tribe Dynamics survey shared with Marketing Dive. Coca-Cola and Marriott are among the many brands heading to TikTok for creator-driven efforts.
To spur its growth, TikTok has looked to boost and diversify monetization tools for content creators, including a monthly live subscription feature borrowed from the Twitch playbook that launched earlier this year. To compete with the growing power of TikTok, Facebook and YouTube have also opened multimillion dollar creator funds — a lever noticeably absent in ESPN's push.