ESPN undoubtedly has an unparalleled domination of national sports media in America, and now it is trying to directly compete with local coverage with the launching of local based websites ESPN Boston and ESPN Chicago. ESPN also plans on launching three more sites — Los Angeles, New York and Dallas — in the coming months.
ESPN’s dip into local news coverage is intriguing because of the effect it will have on newspapers and local TV channels, which are traditionally the main source for local sports news. The New York Times recently reported that ESPN’s Chicago site became the city’s most visited sports website just three months since its launch, passing established sites such as The Chicago Tribune.
ESPN’s local sites look just like the main ESPN.com page. The difference is that each local site just contains stories, analysis and content related to the major sports programs (professional and college) in the area. Here’s a picture of ESPN’s homepage:
And here’s a picture of ESPN Chicago’s homepage:
It’s easy to see why ESPN’s local sites are quickly becoming so popular. I, for one, cannot wait for ESPN Minnesota so that I can find all Minnesota sports information all in one place. But it also warrants the question: Does ESPN have too much of a monopoly over sports coverage? Many prominent local columnists have taken jobs with ESPN because of the allure of more national attention and bigger paychecks. With the addition of more local sites, will ESPN acquire all of the nation’s best sportswriters? What would the consequences of such a situation? Also, what do newspapers and local news channels have to do to compete against ESPN’s expanded local coverage?