ESPN Begins Cross Media Research Program Ahead Of Summer’s World Cup Coverage

ESPN (NYSE: DIS) is following a number of industry efforts to improve audience measurement that began last year with its own collective research effort. The Disney sports franchise is starting ESPN XP to study consumer behavior around major sporting events beginning with the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa this summer. ESPN’s initial partners in the program include The Keller Fay Group, Knowledge Networks, The Media Behavior Institute, The Nielsen Company and The Wharton Interactive Media Initiative. A number of other partners are expected to be added over the next few weeks.

During a conference call announcing ESPN’s intention to combine audience results from TV, radio, the web, mobile and print, Glenn Enoch, ESPN’s VP for integrated media research, said that the company is still very much engaged in the industry’s recent collective project, the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement . But given ESPN’s established outlets across various media, the company felt it necessary to move ahead on its own. “We’re not just a cable company anymore, we’re a multimedia platform company and we want to be measured that way,” Enoch said.

In addition to CIMM’s work, which is currently focused on gathering TV set-top box audience data, the ESPN project also dovetails with Nielsen’s rollout of combined measurement for internet and TV viewing though its People Meters. The