ESPN launches Exit 31 to experiment with companion content

Michelle Clancy | 11-03-2014

ESPN is ready to experiment with "subjects, formats, editorial approaches and platforms" to create ancillary offerings for its linear fare, via a new subsidiary dubbed Exit 31.

Named after the exit off Interstate 84 which leads to ESPN's New England HQ, the company will combine the resources of three existing units ESPN Films, Grantland and FiveThirtyEight under one umbrella.

"Storytelling is at the core of everything ESPN does, across divisions," said Marie Donoghue, senior vice president of global strategy, business development and business affairs at ESPN, who will head up Exit 31. "Formally combining these teams will create a collaborative studio environment whose mission will be to take risks and experiment with editorial approach, visual presentation and programming across platforms. We hope to continue to bring a variety of creative people into ESPN from varied sources including non-traditional sports media sources to cross-pollinate within Exit 31 and across ESPN's existing and award-winning content divisions."

Initial projects under Exit 31 include FiveThirtyEight Films, a collaboration between FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films to create short and long-form films drawing from the work of FiveThirtyEight and using data analytics as a part of its ethos. Meanwhile, the newly expanded FiveThirtyEight will focus on data visualisations as a key way to use information to tell stories.