Case Study: Sports Network Behemoth ESPN Takes Fans Behind the Scenes, Gets More Personal with Front Row Blog

ESPN’s Front Row blog is designed to take its millions of fans inside the storied sports network, and at the same time serves as a platform to respond to public criticism of its practices.  Photo courtesy of ESPN

Company: ESPN

Timeframe: April 2011 - Present
Since 1979, ESPN has established itself as the voice for the sports fan. Having begun as a fledging network airing slow-pitch softball and wrestling, the Bristol, Conn.-based sports media network has, in over 30 years, transformed itself into one of the most recognizable brands in the world—and at times one of the most criticized.
With its immense broadcast, radio and digital media platforms, and an estimated worth of $40 billion (according to Forbes) ESPN has become the 800-pound gorilla of sports media. Because of its resources, ESPN has kept with the ever-evolving digital landscape by integrating Twitter and Facebook sharing into its content and making fans voices a part of their daily television programming.
But for all the sports content ESPN was delivering to the masses, how were they handling their own external-facing websites? That was the question facing ESPN VP of communications, Mike Soltys.
The thinking was that with numerous options now available to deliver content, ESPN needed to make sure it was doing all it could to stay ahead of the curve.
With that in mind, ESPN’s public-facing corporate blog, Front Row, would be launched to give an inside look at ESPN, its culture and its people while encouraging two-way conversation with users.
Front Row would be the source of record for ESPN’s perspective on topical issues and breaking news that relate to the company. The internal philosophy behind Front Row would be simple and straightforward: Whenever you are sending out a press release, think of ways in which that release could be expanded upon with a post on Front Row.


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