Audiences are choosing to watch their favorite games and highlight reels through live video streaming platforms instead of traditional television. ESPN opened an event called "ESPN F1rst" by delivering a presentation to advertisers concerning finding new ways to attract younger sports viewers. "ESPN F1rst" took place at the Minskoff Theatre in New York on May 15.

Direct-to-consumer and audience expansion

Speaking to the media following the presentation, new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro declared intentions to expand direct-to-consumer business and grow its audience. As more consumers slashed cable for online streaming video, there is hope that the streaming service can rescue the struggling company.

ESPN reported a subscriber loss of 13 million over the last six years.

The company created a new direct-to-consumer service app called ESPN+ to appeal to younger demographic. That service, unveiled by ESPN and Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, cost $4.99 a month to stream sports content through digital properties such as the ESPN mobile app.

"As we think about what's important to the business, I'll start with direct-to-consumer," Pitaro told reporters. "We have a fantastic app that is, in my opinion, the best sports experience on a digital platform anywhere. We now have the first multi-sport, direct-to-consumer streaming service in the U.S. that is doing very well."

Pitaro noted in a news conference, as being reported by the Los Angeles Times, that while the former Disney executive, who managed the digital initiatives and consumer products division, did not disclose any subscriber data, the network is pleased with the early progress on their ESPN+ subscription since its launch in March.

While Pitaro believes that ESPN, widely considered as the most valuable media brand in America, is doing a fantastic job at serving the sports to fans around the world, he also urged the company to think outside the box about expanding its audience: What about causal sports customer? Are we doing everything we can to serve him or her?

The pitch introduced the digital future to advertisers

The network has emphasized the digital future to advertisers. As traditional television becomes a turn-off for young Americans, executives stressed to advertisers that they could offer their younger viewing audience with digital advertising. At the event, ESPN introduced its new "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcasting team to advertisers as part of the presentation.

While more consumers choose video-streaming, the presentation showed advertisers that live programs are increasing in value in the new TV landscape. Advertisers could find new opportunities to deliver their ads to a mass audience when more consumers choose to use streaming devices, on-demand services or a DVR to watch their favorite TV Shows.

Estimates have showed that cord-cutting slowed down when subscribers slashed the cable sports networks. In 2017, ESPN said that the advertiser-coveted audience of 18-to-49-year-olds is on the rise in the traditional viewing metrics due to the increasing popularity of the National Basketball Association.

Bringing fan experience to sports on streaming service

Pitaro took the place of John Skipper, who resigned from his role as a president of the company in December. Despite the company's new leadership, the goals remain the same: To serve sports fans anytime, anywhere. Pitaro plans to focus on the ESPN legacy that will bring a holistic sports experience to fans across the world.

ESPN reportedly inked a deal with Netflix to produce a 10-part Michael Jordan documentary series. Mandalay Sports Media in association with NBA Entertainment will produce the documentary, titled "The Last Dance." It will feature Jordan and his championship Chicago Bulls teams of the '90s. This series will be available on the streaming service in 2019.

ESPN has reached a $750 million streaming-rights agreement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship for the exclusive package that will allow ESPN+ subscribers access to the MMA events. To increase their customer base, ESPN is seeking a streaming-rights deal for other major sporting events, according to Pitaro.