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Bleacher Report, ESPN+ Mobile Video War Heats Up

ESPN has lost roughly 12 million cable subscribers over the past six years, so they needed to do something.

On Thursday, ESPN launched its ESPN+ direct-to-consumer streaming service that sits within the ESPN app. The new service aims to target general sports fans, with an emphasis on niche sports fans and specific team fans. ESPN is clearly getting with the times with the latter focus, catching up to the affinity-based niche sports dominance that Bleacher Report’s popular mobile app has enjoyed.

In that latter point lies my hesitation in celebrating this move: ESPN is behind the 8 ball in dominating niche sports and specific team fans, and now they want to charge $4.99 for a mobile app that’s clearly playing catch up?

The obvious counterpoint is ESPN sits on a rich library of video assets — something Bleacher Report can’t hold a candle to (or can it? Turner owns B/R and Turner Sports recently unveiled its B/R OTT play). With ESPN+, the mothership is betting it can repackage and redistribute to an increasingly mobile sports content consumer. There are plenty of rich profiles on athletes and teams from over the years that can be packaged up in specific affinity-based catalogs.

I’ll leave it to the far superior analysts at TVREV (cough.. Alan Wolk*.. David Bloom.. Jason Damata) to expand further. In the meantime, I want to call attention to the new ESPN+ / ESPN app advertising campaign that launches today (Friday, April 13th) as it’s clearly delivering on the assumption that ESPN’s goal here is to garner more attention from young mobile-social kids.

(*UPDATE: See Alan Wolk’s analysis in last week’s Week In Review.)

Dubbed the ‘Fan’s Best Friend’ ad campaign, the new ESPN+ / ESPN app advertising campaign includes five ads we discovered that were uploaded to YouTube today.

(NOTE: TV[R]EV has learned that ESPN CreativeWorks collaborated with LA-based agency Big Block and Director Cody Stokes on the campaign.)

Here are the five ads below. We’ll be leveraging our data partners to add measurement figures as data/insights roll in, updating this post as the campaign unfolds.

Kids Are Alright

Same But Different

It Chooses You

Burning Both Ends

Leaving Home

Here’s the official tweet from @ESPN on Twitter:

ESPN is promoting the above tweet. Here’s a screen shot of my Twitter feed on Friday evening: