ESPN’s (NYSE: DIS) George Bodenheimer kicked off his presentation at the UBS Global Media Conference with a real crowd pleaser: a few of his network’s latest (still hilarious) “This is Sportscenter” clips. He then tossed a t-shirt to the person in the crowd who could guess the number of these clips that have been produced over the past decade (answer: around 300). His opening message: “The ESPN brand and the business is absolutely thriving… we are sports fans.” This was the gist of his entire presentation, that ESPN, one of the top performers for The Walt Disney Company, represents sports fans and that it knows how to sell to them better than anyone else in sports media.
– Key growth drivers: Core business: network has the best distribution and strong sports rights — “far beyond negotiating for TV rights.” It’s now a leader in multimedia rights. Network can derive more value from its rights than any other company (similar to parent Disney): NBA International will be distributed across 17 different ESPN platforms. Company remains the most valuable network on cable TV, which allows it to garner industry leading ad rates. Furthermore, the company is somewhat DVR immune, since it focuses on a live product. Integrated sales: “Yes, I know, every media company comes in here and says they’re interested in integrated sales.” ESPN has been walking the walk for eight years. Online: “We have always achieved premium CPMs.” Network is seeing a 50 percent premium on CPMs via geotargeting of online ads. Also the company is increasingly international, with several acquisitions over the last year: Scrum.com (rugby), Cricinfo.com (cricket): “We’ll pay as much attention to rugby, cricket and team handball as we do football and baseball.” ESPN now has 34 TV networks worldwide in about 200 countries. Lots more after the jump