The New York Times is reporting that ESPN is rolling out their local site experiment that started in Chicago to three additional markets – Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York. In the Chicago test market they are now the top sports site, passing the local newspaper. This move will be one to watch.
The strategy is brilliant! Take a content mega engine and splice the coverage into micro sites that appeal to a more targeted, regional audiences. They are also using local resources from their owned radio stations with the option to use additional resources in affiliate station markets. Sports coverage is one of the easiest to plan and resource because sports by their very nature are planned events and have a ready source of data (e.g. box scores, etc.).
The Bottom Line
Keep you eye on this move as it could but another nail in the newspaper coffin. The one tricky part for ESPN will be scaling the advertising model effectively for Tier 2 and beyond markets. The cities they are going after next should be relatively easy to replicate Chicago’s success, but Charlotte or Detroit will be another kind of challenge. Stay tuned…