- ESPN Team
As college football returned amid the coronavirus pandemic, schools still allowed fans in a limited capacity. Our question: What would cellphone tracking data from three big games tell us about how fans spread out across a region following a game? Our project mapped fan movement to shed light on the subject.
We wanted to leverage a mapping library to tell the story in a clear, precise way. Mapbox framework was our choice to do so, and this was our first-ever use of their product in storytelling. It was worth the extra work needed to get acclimated with their structure, knowing it could deliver higher-end visuals for our narrative.
Our initial moodboard included past Mapbox executions from New York Times, Washington Post and others, along with some other mapping stories we liked. From wireframe to completed project, we built in more small text blocks and specific images, to leave room for additional reporting as well as a clearer narrative for each game.
ESPN is committed to serving sports fans anywhere, any time. To that end, we put a lot of work into ensuring that our design was effective across all screen sizes.
The final product met our expectations in the scope and scale of the story we wanted to tell. It exceeded expectations in terms of the data itself — once the three games were plotted, we were shocked at just how far fans travel after a college football game. In particular, the Nebraska crowd was a surprise.
It's a great time to build digital experiences because of the new technical possibilities that are unlocked all the time. Mapbox was one example of this, a new world we explored for this piece. It's particularly exciting for us at ESPN, in that we also collaborate with top-notch reporters and editors to give a ton of substance and depth to a dynamic visual story.