Looking to build on the success of its ESPN Chicago local site, ESPN will also launch local sports Websites in York, Los Angeles and Dallas. The network’s efforts will be helped by the fact that it already owns radio stations in those cities.
According to comScore, ESPN Chicago is the No. 1 sports site in the city, drawing some 590,000 unique visitors in June. The online sports section from the Chicago Tribune finished second with about 455,000.
“We are taking ESPN’s marketing push seriously, and we are looking forward to the local sports turf battle in the weeks and months ahead,” Chicago Tribune editor for digital media Bill Adee told The New York Times. And Los Angeles Times associate editor Randy Harvey chimed in, “It would be foolish to underestimate ESPN, but it comes down to resources. I don’t see them being able to replicate what we do.”
ESPN digital-media chief John Kosner downplayed the threat from the new ESPN sites, telling The New York Times, “You’ve got outstanding newspapers and television stations that have been in these markets forever and have strong followings. Our presence will be additive.”
ESPN told The New York Times the costs were minimal, adding that it will only hire around 15 new people for the sites in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York. The Dallas site will go live in the fall, with the other two following in early 2010, ESPN added.