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Most Innovative Companies: ESPN

16  ESPN

For integrating new tech like a startup



For growing like a new tech startup

Seven cable networks, magazine, radio network, podcasts, and websites, including the new, devoted to women's sports. LINEUP TV coverage of pro baseball, basketball, golf, and auto racing on TBS and TNT, plus websites for the NBA, PGA, Nascar, and the NCAA.
107 million weekly fans across all media; 98 million online visits to and other sites during the 2010 FIFA World Cup; nearly 8 million online fantasy-league and game users; more than 3.5 billion text alerts sent in 2010. FANS About 25 million monthly online visitors, making its sports network the second-most-visited on the web. Ranks No. 1 in monthly visitors to its sites for the NBA (10 million), PGA (6.8 million), and Nascar (4.8 million). Total online videos streamed last year: nearly 1 billion.
ESPN 3D, the first 3-D channel on cable, was scheduled to go 24-7 in February; ESPNU College Town debuted in September and is the No. 2 sports app on Facebook with 2.6 million monthly users; "Music in the Life" launched online, featuring prerelease exclusives from Tom Petty and Eric Clapton. BLUE-CHIP PROSPECTS Teamed up with Sports Illustrated last year on to beef up video features, add interactivity, and deploy SI writers on other Turner sites; relaunching this year as part of a deal to cover all 88 NCAA men's and women's championships in 23 different sports.
Launched live streaming, on-demand video, and other features on Microsoft's Xbox Live; converted ScoreCenter, originally an iPhone app, into a multiplatform live scoreboard app. Its newest home: Samsung's Internet TVs. KEY TEAMMATES Developed one of the first sports apps for the iPad and the first sports app for Google TV; sells ads and provides video for Yahoo Sports, the web's most-visited sports site.
Interview with a hologram of the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard; analyst John Kruk facing (and dissecting) a virtual fastball by San Francisco ace Tim Lincecum from actual game footage (technology that grew out of ESPN's World Cup coverage). TRICK PLAYS RaceBuddy turns online Nascar fans into TV producers, with multiple camera angles and live driver audio. On, fans follow players shot by shot. And the new NBA Turnstile app lets users check in at games Foursquare-style, earn perks, and interact on social media.
Its compelling "30 for 30" documentary series produced 30 films in just 32 months (Hollywood, are you listening?) and paved the way for more long-form content. The directors included veterans Barry Levinson and Peter Berg, along with surprise picks Steve Nash and Ice Cube. HOME RUN Its staggering $10.8 billion deal with CBS to nationally televise every game in the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament for 14 years — 938 games in all — starting this year. It's a new stage for Turner's irrepressible Charles Barkley. Beginning in 2016, Turner and CBS will alternate Final Four coverage. Swish!