ESPN is set to launch April 13 the first of its locally branded Web sites with ESPNChicago.com, just in time for the Chicago Cubs home opener. The launch also includes a new ad insertion technology that will allow advertisers to geo-target content with their advertising in both live audio streaming and downloadable audio.
WMVP-AM, the ESPN Radio owned-and-operated station, which is now part of the ESPN Radio 1000 site, will have a section of its own within ESPNChicago.com.
The site has already signed a number of charter advertisers, including launch partner StubHub, the official ticket provider for the site., MillerCoors, Hiltons of Chicago, Chicago Lincoln Mercury Dealers and Hawthorne Race Course.
"We're excited to be building on the combined successes of both ESPN.com and ESPN Radio 1000 with a new platform for Chicago sports fans," said Marc Horine, vp of digital partnerships and sales development for ESPN.
ESPNChicago.com will feature exclusive and original content, draw on content from its multiple platforms, and offer a full array of social network platforms and mobile capabilities. Local news, video, traffic and weather will be provided by WLS-TV, ABC's owned TV station, which will also get a link back to abc7chicago.com.
ESPN plans to roll out other locally-branded sites, but first the company wants to see how Chicago goes. Logical next prospects for locally-branded ESPN sites would be the company's owned radio outlets in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Pittsburgh.