ESPN Shoots for Hyperlocal

Posted on 20. Jul, 2009 by in Hyperlocal, News Ecosystem

ESPN is extending its reach into hyperlocal sports coverage with plans to launch metro-based websites around the country, The New York Times reported today.

As part of a trial run that started with ESPN Chicago, the self-proclaimed “world leader in sports” is gearing up to add three new cities to its target list: New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. The company plans to keep costs at a minimum by using their existing resources and hiring about 15 people for all three of the new outfits combined.

Whether or not those costs remain as low as ESPN intends, the move into local coverage is likely to bring in some strong local advertising dollars.

“In less than three months, ESPN Chicago has become the city’s top sports site, attracting about 590,000 unique visitors in June, according to data from comScore, an Internet measurement company. Second place went to The Tribune’s online sports section with 455,000 unique visitors,” the Times wrote.

So, will ESPN’s new sites further the brand and potentially dominate hyperlocal sports media? Or will they fail to reach their targeted audiences like The Washington Post’s We talked to a few sports bloggers in different cities to see what their reactions are:

“Sounds good to me,” says Bryson Treece of Dallas Cowboys Nation. “I look for opportunities like that all the time to get my coverage out to a broader audience. I think it’ll also be good for them. ESPN are the running joke right now in terms of their coverage, so hopefully this will help them get back in touch with their readers.”

“They definitely have the brand name, so it sounds like another blow to the local newspapers in those cities,” says Brian Cook of MGoBlog, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “As a blogger, I haven’t seen the sort of content on ESPN that would frighten me. Now, if they started hiring well-educated sports fans and used them to move into deeper analysis, that would worry me. But, as far as I’m concerned, they’re not doing that on a hyperlocal basis yet.”

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