ESPN+ — StatSocial’s Guide to OTT Network Audiences

Sep 13, 2018 | Insights

(Be sure to check out this series’ introductory entry here.)

We’d be remiss in doing a series of entries of this nature, with a special emphasis on sports, without taking a look at ESPN+ (or, if you will, “ESPN Plus”). Disney, ESPN’s parent-company, has made it clear that in its current state the platform — available via the ESPN mobile app, and through all the major devices available for streaming video to your TV — has only just begun to reveal what it will become.

Two subscription models are currently offered, $5 a month for those testing the water, and $50 a year for those ready to give this thing 12 months (but save $10).

Disney describes the service as providing users with a “limited ad experience,” which means that real estate could wind up more coveted should sports fans come to find the network’s OTT incarnation as essential as they have its “corded” parent. As with all other entries in this series, we’re demonstrating here how StatSocial helps marketers find, and to pair brands with, those marketing channels to which their resources will be most effectively dedicated.

In its current state users get access to some MLB, NHL, NBA, and MLS games, college sports, PGA golf, Top Rank Boxing, pro tennis, cricket, rugby, CFL, and more. If Disney’s bid to purchase a sizable portion of 21st Century Fox goes through, it’s been made clear that this pot may be sweetened with some Fox Sports programming.

The Basic Demos


An explanation of how to read this chart, and all such charts you’ll find on the StatSocial platform: The bar in blue, and the percentage within, represents the social media audience being analyzed (in this case, fans of ESPN+). The bar in grey, and the percentage within, represents the baseline. For these entries, that is the average American social media audience. The index score to the right represents the degree to which the corresponding statistic for this audience is either in line with, exceeds, or falls short of the baseline. Index scores consistent with or greater than the baseline are in green, and those that are under-indexed are in red.

Men are over-indexed here to a dramatic degree. You and we know plenty of female sports fans, but it’s still a notable statistic.


This is a statistic we imagine would be of tremendous interest to both the folks at ESPN+ and the right kind of advertisers. Those making in excess of $100,000 a year are present among this audience to a degree exceeding the average American social media audience member by nearly 15%, or two times.


At a glance, we can immediately see that ages 45 and up and ages 18 to 24 are under-indexed. Neither to too dramatic a degree (well, maybe 18 to 24 is rather under-represented). Ages 25 to 34 are to be found among this crowd to a degree exceeding the average by nearly one-and-one-third times. Given the income statistic, there may be definitively upwardly mobile younger people to be found in this audience. Deeper investigation may be called for, but StatSocial is all too prepared to help you in finding the answers you seek.


Sporty brands account for half the entries here. Goods for the active sporting participant are well represented. Those goods manufactured by Nike find fans here to a degree 4.45 times greater than the baseline, and then the sporting goods brands Under Armour and Adidas both find their admirers dwelling among this crowd to a degree two-and -a-half-times greater than the U.S. average. For those seeking simulated sports participating, the video game manufacturers EA Sports and 2k Sports find admirers here to degrees right around four-and-a-quarter times. And, finally, there’s always room for fast food and entertainment based on comic books.


Eight of the entries here are sports related, although notably only three — ‘Baseball Tonight,’ ‘E:60,’ and ‘His & Hers’ — are ESPN programs.

NBA TV’s ‘The Starters’ — finding fans among this audience to a degree exceeding the average American social media audience by over 37 times — gives indication of this gang’s sports fandom and hankerin’ for a good ol’ fashioned cord-cutting.SPORTS TEAMS

As opposed to those with an affinity for the various OTT platforms we’ve been analyzing in this series of entries, this OTT channel finds 10 proper, red-blooded North American sports teams the most prominently indexed among their audience. The Dodgers make out most impressively, with it being 81 times more likely to find their fans here than among the average American social media audience.


As you’ll find elsewhere on the StatSocial site, we explain StatSocial Clusters with the words below:

About StatSocial Clusters

Our data scientists have modeled the entire US population into 200 unique clusters. Using billions of inputs for over 120M US consumers, we have segmented naturally occurring population clusters across distinct demographic and household types, personality traits provided by IBM Watson, combined with people’s passions, which we have sourced from their social activities online. For those familiar with traditional clustering models such as PRIZM, Personicx, Mosaic, and Tapestry, we believe this layer of social behaviors, which only StatSocial can offer, provides the richest possible insights into what motivates different types of people. We think you’re going to love the context our cluster analysis will provide.

You can click through here to read our descriptions of all 200 unique segments.

Here are the Clusters most highly indexed among the Hulu Live TV audience in contrast to the average American social media crowd:

Unsurprisingly, it’s sports-centric clusters dominate those indexing most highly here. From the above linked to page, here are the descriptions of each Cluster:

  1. The Sports Must Be Reported (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by nearly a whopping 17 times)
    This is a group of mostly men, residing in rural areas, or at least the most distant suburbs, they are in their late-30s and early-40s, and they love to read about sports in the paper or online, and watch them be dissected, analyzed, debated, or simply reported on the TV. Not terribly outgoing, they are even less Agreeable. On the other hand, IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® adds that they’re not particularly Neurotic and they are Open to new experiences. So bring on ESPN-3D or even ESPN VR, as we know just the fellas who will be open to trying it out.
  2. Willie, Mickey & The Duke (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by a substantial 13.62 times)
    A suburban bunch, about 75% male, in their mid-30s-to-early40s, and mostly rurally-based. This group’s common love is hardball. The National Pastime. You get the picture? The shared affinities of these bleacher bums (just sounds good, maybe they have skyboxes) include players and teams, and even more so broadcasters and media outlets focused on the sport. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® finds them least of all outgoing and only slightly more Agreeable. They are not, however, contentious introverts to too dramatic a degree. They are, it should be added, Neurotic to an extent below the typical, and most of all Open to new experiences.
  3. Hooligantastic (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by what’s approaching five-and-one-fifth times)
    This is a lot that lets their true colours (note the spelling) show when it comes to their love for the United Kingdom’s many fine association football — or, as we say here in the states, soccer — teams. Gary Lineker, Wayne Rooney, Arsenal FC, ‘Match of the Day,’ and more of the sort, all find themselves among the most highly esteemed preoccupations of this array of internet users. Open to new experiences most of all, but Agreeable to the least degree, IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® also tells us that they are measurably more Conscientious than they are Neurotic. So much for our assumptions about the average U.K. footie fan.
  4. Basketball Jones (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by nearly four-and-two-thirds times)
    Suburbanites here, 79% dudes. in their late-20s-to-early-30s. This assortment of gentlemen are easily characterized. Their shared interest is the great American sport of basketball. Particularly, it must be noted, when played at the highest level by the most prominent professionals in our country’s fine National Basketball Association. We know, thanks to IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® that their ranks accommodate the Agreeable and Conscientious to degrees below the average, but they’re a touch more Neurotic. Generally, though, it’s a mix as folks of all personality types enjoy a good game of roundball.
  5. A Leftward Slant(those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by just about three-and-four-fifths times)
    This group resides so entirely within the city, the city practically resides within them. 53% male, and a mid-40s crowd. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® has concluded from their analysis of our data that this cadre is not even a little Agreeable. Also, this lot is only a hair above moderately Conscientious, and not at all outgoing. But they are profoundly Open to new experiences, and virtually free of Neuroses. They’re liberals, or at least seem to lean that way. What we know for certain is that their shared affinities read like a what’s what and who’s who of the nation’s most prominent, leftward leaning newspapers, magazines, websites, and bloggers/columnists.
  6. Country Sunday Warriors (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by what’s approaching three-and-three-quarters times)
    Well outside the city, this group of 80% men find themselves every Sunday, each autumn, doing what men inside the city, and the suburbs do as well. Carcass parked on the couch, possibly with a six pack on hand, perhaps some buddies and nachos entering the picture as well. This group of 30-somethings’ shared affinities reveal them as devotees to our grand National Football League, and the titanic, lightning fast gentlemen who play for that fine organization. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® shows all personality types as being present here to a degree below the average, with the Neurotic — present just a hair above the average — being the exception.
  7. Puck Heads (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by just about three-and-a-half times)
    In the rural-‘burbs you will find these 59% male, mid-30s-to-40-somethings. While akin to a religion in Canada, down here hockey is often treated like the runt of the pro sports litter. Walking anywhere within the vicinity of Madison Square Garden after a Rangers game, however, one would have a difficult time believing that. Not the NFL, granted, nonetheless the fans the game does have in the lower-48 are dedicated. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® tells us these fans are dead-on averagely Neurotic, notably below-average in terms of being Agreeable, and a hair above the norm when it comes to being Open.

PERSONALITIES (courtesy of IBM Watson™ Personality Insights)

Among the vast many audience insights uncovered in every StatSocial report is an analysis of the personality types most prevalent in the audience our engine is being employed to analyze. The ability to derive these spectacularly useful and unique insights from our audience data comes via our proud partnership with IBM Watson™ and our integration of their Personality Insights tool into our reporting.

Personality Insights, in the case of its application to StatSocials audience insights, processes all the public online writings — on social media, blogs, message boards, comments threads, and so forth — of those comprising the audience being analyzed. Using sophisticated linguistic analytics, Personality Insights infers the characteristics of each audience member. Starting with the widely applied Big Five taxonomy of personality traits and psyche. From there Watson™ analyzes further, uncovering needs, values, and more.

Visit the IBM Watson™ Personality Insights website for more in depth explanations.

Four of the most highly indexed items to be found here fall under the Big Five category of Openness. In the context of the Big Five this means, as it suggests, “the extent to which a person is open to experiencing different activities.”

The Openness related needs and values most prevalent among this group start with Intellect, and are quickly followed by Adventurousness, Imagination, and Liberalism. Those possessing these traits dwell among the ESPN+ audience to degrees exceeding the average American social media crowd by, give or take, one-and-one-fifth times. “Liberalism” here is not defined in terms of a political affiliation, but as “a readiness to challenge authority, convention, and traditional values.” So, something closer to the dictionary meaning of the word. A desire to become and/or remain liberated.

Armed with these insights — as with all other StatSocial insights — you can ascertain to what degree your message is already reaching your desired consumer type, whether or not you’d like to be reaching a different or additional audience, and finally where in the wilds of social media that audience-type — be they more of who is already connecting with your brand, or those you’d like to sway to your brand’s favor — can be found.


The technology-based ‘Seeker’ channel has three-and-a-half-million subscribers. Among this crew, however, you’re well over nine times (creeping up on ten times) more likely to find one of its fans than you are among the average American social media crew.

In the second place spot is the YouTube channel associated with what had been the country’s second biggest wrestling promotion. Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA wrestling) — of which notoriously cantankerous Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan was the president for a couple of months last year, before he sued the company for defaulting on a $2.7 million loan he’d provided. With well over one-and-a-half-million subscribers — and admirers here exceeding the baseline by nine-and-a-quarter times — they seem to be hanging tough in the digital realm.

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Watch this space, as this survey of the platforms most eager to get you cutting that cord has more to come.

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