ESPN’s 'House’ Scores $30 Million in Sales

ESPN was quite a gracious host during the recently ended football season.

Running its “ESPN The House” promotion for the third consecutive year, the sports giant helped local cable affiliates generate an estimated $30 million in local ad sales.

“This is by far the largest local ad-sales program in the industry,” ESPN senior vice president of affiliate ad sales Gary Perrelli said. The promotion, which ran from Aug. 15 through Halloween last year, centered on a grand-prize drawing in which each room in the winner’s house was converted into a football destination.

Last year, ESPN also offered a local prize element to stimulate sales, as each market received a SkyBox Rookie Fridge. Additionally, participating local sponsors received a $20 gift certificate to the Team Store at Affiliates that submitted their local ad sales success stories to ESPN also tackled a gift certificate.

All told, ESPN The House counted more than 300 affiliates whose systems reached 63 million homes.

Perrelli said local ad sales teams scored with marketers targeting men 18 to 34, including auto dealers, hardware stores, sporting goods outlets, quick serve restaurants and beverage vendors.

ESPN provided affiliates with customized support materials, including point-of-purchase displays, window clings and posters, and a pair of taggable spots.

This year’s grand prize winner, an elderly couple residing in East Berlin, Conn., had their house outfitted on Feb. 10 with a 42-inch plasma HDTV; a new sofa and recliner; four 20-inch flat panel TV sets; a laptop computer; and a mini-fridge.

To ensure a “home-team advantage,” one room was decorated with colors and memorabilia of the winner’s favorite team, the New England Patriots. ESPN reporter Michelle Bonner, cheerleaders from the University of Hartford and ESPN and Comcast Spotlight executives attended a housewarming party Feb. 12, during ESPN’s coverage of the National Football League Pro Bowl.

“To have the national winner generated from East Berlin will go a long way in validating the power of cable promotions in the future,” John Bordeleau, area vice president, southern New England, Comcast Spotlight, said in a statement.

Perrelli expects ESPN’s game plan to include another House play next season. “We’ll tweak it again,” he said, noting that details would be posted on the affiliate relations Web site in May.