ESPN Radio Exec says Smartphone Audio Key to Future

Marc Horine, VP Digital Partnerships and Sales Development for ESPN Radio, told Mobile Sports Report on Friday that “20 percent of our listening is coming through a digital audio device” and that content delivered through smartphones and iPads rates as key to ESPN Radio’s future.

Horine is the ESPN Radio executive involved in such ESPN partnerships as StubHub and the GSI Commerce Inc.’s ESPN Shop collaboration. He said the goal is to get programming like the popular shows “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” and “The Scott Van Pelt Show” to as many consumers as possible, regardless of the device used to listen in.    
“It comes down to building a great, clean, simple easy-to-use product that works,” Horine said.

Horine’s comments follow ESPN’s deal earlier this month to partner with San Diego-based Slacker Inc. to provide ESPN on Slacker Radio, including premium services priced at $3.99 and $9.99 per month which allow people to store radio programming locally.

For ESPN Radio, the deal signals that The Death Star (ESPN) will be aggressive in licensing digital audio rights to technology partners interested in distributing content. In so doing, ESPN is prepared to tap into the phenomenon of sports fans who are using mobile devices to view and listen to sports, interact via social media and access sports information that provides more insight into the game. If successful in making its content a top choice of the most sophisticated of mobile sports fans, ESPN Radio will be able to capitalize on the coming booms in personalized advertising tied to sports programming and direct-marketing offers tailored to hardcore fans.

For San Diego-based Slacker, the ESPN deal pushes the toward a much broader base of audio content. To date, Slacker has been a reliable technology platform for music, and has only recently moved into news, sports, comedy and commentary. The push is designed to make Slacker not only a choice for audio content when listening at home or at work, but also when traveling, Slacker CEO Jim Cady told Mobile Sports Report.

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