SBJ/May 15 - 21, 2006/This Weeks News

MLB to double Spanish sites

MLB.com plans this season to double the number of Spanish-language team sites it operates from four to eight, reflecting a growing interest among individual clubs in Latino-based marketing initiatives.

Mets and Astros Spanish-language sites are
already up and running.
The New York Mets earlier this month debuted losmets.com on a soft-launch basis. It joins a list of Spanish-language sites previously launched by the San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as a Spanish-language version of the MLB.com league site. By season’s end, the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks are expected to have such sites as well.

The Astros’ Spanish-language site, astrosdehouston.com, has been operating since 2000 but was reworked earlier this year to include blogs from several international columnists, additional news content and other features. The Dodgers’ site came online in March, with the Giants’ site debuting last September.

“The clubs are coming to us and telling us this is what they need to better conduct their Spanish-language marketing,” said Suzanne Medina, MLB.com’s director of Spanish-language sites. “It’s very encouraging to see. The clubs are obviously realizing how their fan bases are growing and changing, and the challenge now is to do this in a meaningful way and not just put something up there.”

The incremental costs of staffing and developing content for the Spanish-language sites are largely borne by the teams, with those costs often reaching the high five figures or low six figures annually. The layout for each of the Spanish-language sites resembles the English-language versions, and, for now, includes most of the same advertisers. Over the coming months, the intent is to fill each site with more specific, culturally relevant content and ads for sponsors more specifically targeting Latino and Spanish-speaking fans.

“Putting up a Spanish-language site is the easy part, and it’s obviously a demographic we want and need to engage with on a deeper level,” said Dave Howard, Mets executive vice president for business operations. “But the harder part is putting together all the content, all the interactivity that people have come to expect, the audio, the chats, the video, all the things that make our sites what they are.”

MLBAM officials wouldn’t provide specific traffic counts for the Spanish-language team sites now operating.

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