SBD/Issue 171/Sports Media

Time To Play The Game: ESPN Introduces Several New Digital Outlets

ESPN Creating Apps
For Local Markets

ESPN made several announcements this morning during its upfront presentations about its digital properties, most notably a two-year deal with social gaming outfit Playdom to create ESPN-branded games for social media portals include Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. The first is a college and sports-themed take on the highly popular Farmville and is slated to launch this fall, with another game also currently in development. "This is something we've been looking to do for a while, and are very excited about," said ESPN Digital Media Senior VP & GM John Kosner. "There is a lot of excitement out there with these social games, but so far, very few sports titles." The network also announced plans to create locally oriented mobile applications for the iPhone and iTouch for the N.Y., Boston, Chicago, L.A. and Dallas markets, the five areas comprising its local web effort. The free apps will include local news and scores, "SportsCenter" audio and video clips, GPS-activated weather updates, local stadium guides and other content. "We see this a critical component of what we're doing locally, and an important extension of that fan experience, particularly as it relates to the location-based functionality," Kosner said. ESPN remains focused on those five markets for its local digital efforts, but Kosner said that it is exploring other potential sites, though a sixth market is not imminently planned. Should one occur, however, it would likely launch with both a website and mobile application, he said.

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