SBD/Issue 15/Sports Media

ESPN Prepping New Web Site Dedicated To Girls' High School Sports

ESPN Working On Girls'
High School Sports Site
ESPN is "prepping a Web site focused on girls' high school sports -- falling under an espnW brand," according to David Goetzl of MEDIAPOST. While young female athletics is "arguably under-covered" from a content perspective, it "offers some opportunity for advertisers to reach an elusive target -- one that a male-oriented ESPN may not have tapped." ESPN said that the espnW venture is "in the early stages -- but the network is exploring some combination of athlete-generated content, social media and its own editorial material." Goetzl noted there "may be an opportunity to branch out beyond scores and highlights into areas such as self-help, conditioning and performance tips." ESPN did not provide details, saying the venture is in "the developmental stage." It is "unclear how much ESPN will sync the new 'W' site with its ESPN Rise umbrella high school brand, which includes a magazine with locally targeted issues and an eponymous Web site that was launched last year" (MEDIAPOST.com, 9/30).

SCHOOL SPIRIT: In Ft. Lauderdale, Cabrera Chirinos & Talalay noted St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Ft. Lauderdale) plays Byrnes High School (Duncan, SC) on ESPNU Friday night in the "biggest prep football game in the country" this weekend. The teams are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in USA Today's national poll, and "keeping an eye on the outcome will be executives from major corporations" such as ESPN, Nike, Old Spice and Gatorade. Those companies each have a "stake in Friday's game and [have] targeted high school sports as one of the next great markets." Nike has put up banners at St. Thomas this week "picturing the Raiders team mascot and Nike's iconic logo" across campus. ESPN is televising 22 high school football games this year -- up from 19 last year -- and advertisers are becoming involved in the broadcasts in part due to the "growth of college sports," as college sports fans are "eager to watch future stars now" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/1). Meanwhile, in Miami, Fred Grimm wrote under the header, "Exploiting Sports Prodigies Now Is ESPN." ESPN has been in the "business of exploiting high school football games since 2005," as the net has "taken to contriving games between distant winning high school programs previously happy to stay in their own vicinity" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/1).

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