Measuring Customer Engagement in a Matter of Minutes

Engagement. It’s a concept that we in industry love to debate. I hope you won’t judge me if I side-step the arguments. Rather than making a case for “the” way to measure, I simply want to share ESPN’s take on quantifying engagement and how it has impacted our organization.

Measuring Customer Engagement in a Matter of Minutes image espn 1Measuring Customer Engagement in a Matter of MinutesAs a multi-media company with roots in television, ESPN sought a core engagement metric that could translate across platforms but still answer the foundational questions of a TV rating: “how many” and “how much.” What we landed on was the notion of “average minute audience,” a measure of the total number of fans online in the average minute (Total Minutes Consumed/Total Possible Minutes). The “average minute audience” metric helps us to make apples-to-apples comparisons with TV ratings and quantify engagement for our multi-platform advertisers. For instance, based on our average minute audience in February, ESPN’s digital properties rated higher than several major cable networks, including FX, AMC, Discovery, and Food Network.


As a CRM practitioner, my team’s mission is to “know enough about fans, at any time or place, to serve them better.” Fulfilling that mission requires fan-level data; advanced analytics and segmentation; and targeted activation efforts to drive acquisition, engagement, and loyalty. The work we do informs marketing strategies and digital product development and enables targeted content, ad, and email delivery.

Average minute audience is an important metric for my team. We can make the link between individual fans, average minute audience, and digital revenue contribution. For example, in a recent month, roughly 19% of ESPN’s monthly uniques were Fantasy players, Personalized fans, or ESPN Insider subscribers. That 19% of fans comprised a whopping 45% of ESPN’s average minute audience. We know these fans also deliver a high, per-fan revenue contribution, and it’s our mission to keep them involved and engage others who have the potential to be like them. Average minute audience gives us a common language across ESPN departments to relay insights, drive action, and measure results. In this way, average minute audience is not just a way to quantify fan engagement, it is also a way to engage the organization in its efforts to serve our fans.

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