BACKGROUND: An ESPN senior VP for three years, Ryan Spoon’s responsibility for developing and designing digital products across all screens — including ESPN.com, ESPN apps, Watch ESPN and ESPN3 — grew to include digital audience development. Now he’s driving innovation and creation of original content for ESPN’s digital and social channels. He brought extensive experience in digital realms to ESPN, via venture capital (Polaris Venture Partners), Widgetbox (now Flite) and four years at eBay.
2017 HIGHLIGHTS: ESPN Digital saw “significant growth” overall in reach, usage and engagement, he says. “More specifically, there were two key launches that have really stood out to me. We launched a brand new, innovative Apple TVOS app that allows fans to stream up to four games and/or programs side-by-side. It’s customizable, fun and really immersive. We are very proud of the ESPN App on TVOS. It’s such a terrific way to watch sports. Second, we launched SportsCenter on Snapchat, which is also an example of creating unique experiences for that environment and user base. We publish shows twice daily (at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.) and the results have been tremendous. The show is fun, growing rapidly and unlike anything we’ve done previously.”
WHAT’S AHEAD: “First, continuing to build and produce the most engaging sports experiences across all screens,” he says. “Second, we are focused on the upcoming launch of ESPN Plus and think it will be a fantastic, really significant offering for sports fans that sits really nicely alongside our existing products and programming. And third, we are focused on driving growth and engagement on our off-platform channels like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.” Along with the Snapchat show, hosted by Katie Nolan, he cites First Take: Your Take on Facebook Watch. “Our focus on social content has netted significant growth and engagement on these platforms.”