Comcast Plans to Launch Local Sports Units

By Andrew Gauthier 

SportsBusiness Journal

Comcast is responding to ESPN’s move to launch local Web sites by beefing up its news operations at five of the company’s regional sports networks.

Comcast is interviewing reporters and editors to staff its online news operations in Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. Its executives are using the same template in these markets that they used in Boston, where Comcast spent millions of dollars earlier this fall to launch a news operation from scratch.

“This is the single largest investment outside of making an acquisition in the business,” said Eric Grilly, executive vice president and chief digital officer for Comcast Sports Group.

The moves clearly are coming in response to ESPNs launch of locally tailored Web sites. This year, ESPN launched local sites in Chicago, Boston and Dallas, with launches planned in New York and Los Angeles next year.

The implications for Comcast are significant. In markets where it operates regional sports networks, Comcast does not want to cede local sports news to a national entity like ESPN. More…

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