By combining resources from ESPN, its Disney owned-and-operated station and a radio station, ESPN will soon launch its first local site, ESPNChicago.com. Beyond sports coverage, the site will provide utility, such as a way for a local softball team to organize. And a social network. On the video front, ESPNChicago.com will feature a mini version of a Sports Center, focused on Chicago news. ESPN says if the Chicago startup goes well, they’ll start expanding into other markets, as well.
Of all the local sports ventures in recent years, ESPN’s approach seems to be the smartest: pulling together existing resources, add a little extra original content, wrap it with a brand that’s synonymous with sports, and provide social utility that local media sites have failed to offer.