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ESPN Reportedly Slows Plans To Add More Local Websites
Published September 1, 2010
|ESPNLA.com Attracted Nearly
2.7 Million Unique Visitors In July
ESPN has "slowed plans to expand" its local websites into new cities and has "become more cautious about the prospects of significant growth from local operations,” according to a source cited by James Rainey of the L.A. TIMES. An ESPN official, however, stressed yesterday that the company "continues to plan to add local operations." ESPN established local websites in five cities -- N.Y., L.A., Chicago, Dallas and Boston -- but it "remains far from certain whether the expansion into metropolitan markets around America, announced about a year ago, will snatch huge chunks of the audience from established local outlets.” Data from Internet traffic measurement company comScore shows that ESPNLA.com attracted "nearly 2.7 million unique visitors a month for July, its strongest month since its founding” in December. The audience “has generally been trending upward in the other four cities too.” But a source said that ESPN “expected more." While the local reporters “have undoubtedly expanded the range of coverage on local sports, the ESPN locals haven’t landed the kind of blockbuster scoops, exclusive interviews or consistently stylish features to win a high profile.” Rainey notes the ESPN brand "carries a lot of weight and has been a powerful revenue engine for its parent Walt Disney," but it "can't just show up ... and expect to earn a permanent and meaningful foothold in these local markets." As a business proposition, it "remains to be seen whether the ESPN locals will build a big enough audience or bring in enough money to make all the effort worth the trouble” (L.A. TIMES, 9/1).