The Buzz: 2022 ESPYS
The ESPYS highlight the best moments in and around sports in the past year, presenting a stellar opportunity for brands to align with the players and their notoriety. At this year’s show, notable brands included:
• Capital One as a presenting sponsor for the 12th consecutive year with their logo visible on the red carpet step and repeat
• Champion & Google were recognized for their involvement in the Fifty/50 content initiative honoring the 50th Anniversary of Title IX
• Gatorade presented the annual Athlete of the Year Award
• Expedia highlighted the Best Breakthrough Athlete
• 1800 Tequila sponsored The Players Tribune pre-party event
Brands were involved in everything from pre-party events to the red carpet and social posts from players. Host Steph Curry sipped on a dark liquor in his opening monologue, but the glass was unbranded.
SPORTS ARE STREAMING—EVERYWHERE
According to a poll from online adtech giant Magnite, 44% of cable users would cut the cord if sports could be live streamed. With the launch of NFL+, individual sports leagues have entered the streaming wars, which could spell the loss of almost half of cable’s viewer base. This trajectory of sports shifting to streaming has seen no means of slowing down with similar landmark changes such as the Olympics being presented on NBCU’s streaming service Peacock and other streaming giants Disney, Amazon, and Apple making bids for the NFL Sunday Ticket after DirecTV’s 30-year grasp of football fans’ favorite day of the week. Ultimately these streaming changes deal a tremendous blow to the world of cable, but will other streamers also feel a downturn because of pro leagues vying for consumer attention by creating streaming services if NFL+ succeeds?
WOMEN IN SPORTS
While the ESPYS do include several categories for female athletes, many of these awards are not presented during the live broadcast, and the nominees do not attend. The treatment trends for female athletes continues as winners Katie Ledecky (gold-medal swimmer) and Megan Rapinoe (USWNT star) had their names mispronounced during the show.
The 2022 ESPYS were watched by nearly 2.5 million viewers, down 35% from the last time it aired in its usual slot – the day after MLB’s All-Star Game – in 2019.
In addition to linear airing, the ESPYS were available for next-day streaming on Hulu. As more sports find a home on streaming platforms, it will be interesting to see if next year’s ESPYS continue to air on ABC or if they will add a streaming partner for the live show.