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Volume 27 No. 5
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ESPN Personalities Helped Push Marketing For Disney+ Launch

A number of ESPN personalities took to Twitter to help market the new Disney+ streaming service as it officially launched, which "rankled some sports media observers," according to Jacob Bogage of the WASHINGTON POST. Some said it is an "unusual move" to see a journalist "market a commercial product, especially on a platform typically reserved for news distribution, even if it is for the same corporate owner as the news division." ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted a promotional video for Disney+ that did not include any ESPN content, saying, "It will change lives." ESPN's Ed Werder tweeted, Disney+ will give viewers "access to a huge cache of incredible content, new and old." Former ESPN ombudsman and current Poynter Institute VP Kelly McBride said that this kind of promotion from journalists "could make news consumers question the loyalty of reporters: Are they looking out for the public, or their corporate bottom line?" She added, "You're turning the journalist into a salesperson and asking them to upsell the product. That's not the relationship you want the journalist to have with the audience member." An ESPN spokesperson said in a statement that the net "never told employees to share promotional material" about Disney+, but "actively told them about the new streaming service that is meant to play a fundamental part in Disney's future" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/13).

POINT OF EMPHASIS: SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote yesterday's Disney+ launch clearly "meant a lot" to ESPN, because the net "called on all the big guns to use their Twitter accounts to push product." The emphasis on sticking to sports "clearly goes out the window when you need to get $6.99 a month from people for a streaming service" (SI.com, 11/12). CABLEFAX DAILY writes Disney's "marketing muscle is massive." Analysis from MediaRadar put Disney's "ad spend on national TV ads in the six weeks leading up to launch" at $6M, with more than $1.25M "spent on national ads that ran during NFL games." The marketing was "seen across all Disney properties," including ESPN's "SportsCenter" running a "top 10 Simpsons sports moments" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 11/13).

IMPROVING UPON THINGS: ADWEEK's Jason Lynch wrote the new service's user experience is "among the best of all streaming services, and a pleasure to navigate." Disney+ "takes the Netflix template and improves upon it in several key areas: It groups content into the company's five main pillars and organizes it in other helpful ways." Lynch: "Best of all, Disney+ also offers the ability to scroll through alphabetical lists of all movies and series on the site -- a feature that its biggest rivals fail to offer" (ADWEEK.com, 11/12).

FIRST DAY JITTERS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Schwartzel & FitzGerald note Disney+ "began presenting problems for some users almost as soon as it was launched" yesterday. But one user said that the problems "appeared to be fixed by midday." Disney has been "under immense pressure to get this launch right." The company even acquired BAMTech to "build the app's technical infrastructure" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/13). In DC, Alex Horton notes the problems for some users "undercut a huge day for Disney" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/13).