Don’t look now, but ESPN.com is hurting for traffic.
It’s basiclly flat, year-over-year. The site saw 22 million uniques in November 2007 and only 21 million in November 2008, according to ComScore.
According to Quantcast, visits are down too — from 145 million per month a year ago, to 121 million now.
Worse, parent-company Disney (DIS) recently blamed soft ad sales in ESPN.com’ sweet spot — the young men’s demo — for slowed profit growth.
So here comes the redesign, reports the New York Times, which calls it “significant shift in strategy.” The bulletpoints:
- ESPN is taking less-is-more approach, paring the 36 links at the top of the homepage down to 19, for example.
- Advertisers will get to choose from eight ad units instead of three, including a video ad slot intended for movie trailers.
- ESPN.com gets a better search engine. “Our old one, frankly, was just not very good,” says ESPN exec John Skipper.
- Expanded user customisation
A redesign is a good idea, but Disney isn’t going far enough. Disney should slap pre-rolls on all of its video content and distribute it through Hulu or a site like it. ESPN already wisely makes its clips available for embed, so why should users have to go to ESPN.com to find them in the first place?
Update: An ESPN.com rep responds:
- The real story is different than the comScore numbers you cited.
- Nieslen Net Ratings for November: ESPN.com is up 33% in total minutes, +12% in unique users and avg. visits, +32% in category share, +32% in page views. (all year-over-year vs. Nov. 2007).
- Look beyond a single month: ESPN.com’s per month averages, throughout the year — in both comScore and Nielsen — tell a clear story of its continued growth: ** Nielsen Netratings (Jan – Nov monthly averages — vs. same period 2007): Total Minutes +29% to over 1.1 billion; unique users +16% to 19.9 million. ** comScore (Jan – Nov monthly averages — vs. same period 2007): Total minutes +46% to 1.1 billion; unique users +13% to 21 million.
- Quantcast: Quantcast does some interesting work, and we have nothing against them. But ESPN.com does not currently work with Quantcast — the site is not “Quantified,” as they say. Given that, their data about ESPN.com is not accurate (which, I believe, even they would acknowledge).
- Finally, looking at just reach alone (unique users) is a very blunt way to measure success or leadership. Reach, Time spent, category share, mobile traffic, video streams served, engagement with podcasts, etc. are all part of the bigger picture.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.