Dedicated sites in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Dallas now top local sports destinations
StubHub, Diageo and KIA among those signed on for exclusive sponsorships
ESPN today celebrates the two-year anniversary of ESPN Local, a collection of five sites dedicated to city-specific sports news and information. The sites, built on the foundation laid by ESPN’s owned and operated stations in four of the five markets, work closely with its radio counterparts to produce and report on local sports with a unique and authoritative voice for each city. The first to launch under its banner, ESPNChicago.com, debuted to Chicago sports fans on April 13, 2009 for the Chicago Cubs home opener. Since then, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York were added to the lineup, covering the latest on the teams and athletes that passionate local fans care most about.
“To see these sites as the top local sports destinations for fans in each respective market is something we’re truly proud to have accomplished in just two years,” said Jim Pastor, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Local. “We knew that, to genuinely serve the local sports fan, we’d have to attract a talented group of authentic voices that can report on-site and who know firsthand what it’s like to be a fan in Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles or New York. The support we’ve received from across ESPN as well truly makes this success a collaborative effort.”
After its first two years, ESPN Local on average collectively reaches 8.7 million unique visitors and generates 77.2 million minutes per month (comScore unified measurement, Sep 2010-Mar 2011). Not only are they each at the top of the local sports site category in each respective market, but also rank among one of the top local sites overall. The sites collectively place at #9 in unique visitors and #13 in total minutes in the entire sports category. Additionally, the five local apps collectively generate more than 1.4 million average monthly visits on mobile devices.
ESPN Local was recently named Best Local Interactive Media Launch by Advertising Age’s 2010 Media Vanguard Awards. Among the many clients continuing their presence on the ESPN Local sites include StubHub, which has recently renewed its agreement with ESPN Local to be the exclusive ticketing service for the sites, and Diageo, which has worked on several custom multi-market content roll outs. Additionally, KIA has extended its collaboration with ESPN via a multi-platform sponsorship of custom Lakers content on ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Fans keep coming back for the latest from the sites’ well-respected writers, columnists, bloggers and authentic voices, some dedicated solely to a local site and others of ESPN national fame finding a place on the sites to express their hometown ties. Over the years, it has developed its catalog of original scripted and digital content beyond a daily local SportsCenter, extended its reach to mobile devices with apps and mobile Web sites, added social media integrations on Facebook and Twitter and has grown its coverage of high school and prep sports, including a High School/Preps Report blog on each local site.
ESPNChicago.com currently averages 2.5 million unique visitors and 11 million total minutes per month (comScore). In March, both daily unique visitors and total minutes were up 44% compared to the same month in 2010 (Adobe/Omniture). Most recently, the site added Pardon the Interruption co-host and ESPN NBA studio analyst Michael Wilbon to lead some of the sports discussion in his hometown. Over its two years, the site has featured other national and local notables including Nick Friedell, Michael Wright, Doug Padilla, Bruce Levine with columnists Jon Greenberg and Melissa Isaacson – all Chicago sports veterans – ESPN Radio 1000’s Jeff Dickerson and others. In addition to its daily ESPN Chicago SportsCenter, the site has added to its original video content with FanSpeak, hitting the streets of Chicago to talk face to face with sports fans for their take on the latest news affecting the city’s teams, and Hot Button, a debate amongst ESPNChicago.com contributors on the most talked about news surrounding Chicago sports teams.
ESPNBoston.com, the second local site to launch in September 2009, continues to cover New England sports news and information with the same passion that fans come to expect. Boston’s former athletes know the fandom in this town well, and since its debut, the site has featured such notables as former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. Other trusted writers that have kept fans coming back for more include Mike Reiss, Jackie MacMullan, Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald. FanSpeak also captures the voice of Boston fans exclusively on ESPNBoston.com.
Exclusive content continues to grow, most recently with an Internet-only radio show, ESPNBoston.com Radio with Adam Jones, which airs weekdays from 12-2 p.m. ET. It also introduced the establishment of its “Mr. Football” Award presented annually to the top high school football player in Massachusetts. Prep reporters Brendan Hall and Scott Barboza will be building its team of writers to the High Schools section throughout New England with those that are immersed in the action, many of whom have been in the high school sports scene for years.
The site averages 3.3 million unique visitors and 16.5 million total minutes per month. In March, both daily unique visitors were up 39% and total minutes up 42% compared to the same month last year.
ESPNDallas.com, launched shortly after Boston in September 2009, was inaugurated just months after the opening of the new Cowboys Stadium. It currently averages 3.4 million unique visitors and 13.6 million total minutes per month. In March, daily unique visitors were up 23% and total minutes were up 15% compared to March 2010.
The site, built on the eight and a half-year success of ESPN’s owned and operated radio station ESPN Radio 103.3 FM, has featured writers with a wealth of experience writing from the high school level through college and the pros, including Calvin Watkins, Tim MacMahon, Richard Durrett, Jeff Caplan, Todd Archer, columnist Jim Reeves, ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein and others. With a nod to the passion of fans for high school sports in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, ESPNDallas.com features the most trafficked High School/Preps Report blog of all five local sites, thanks to the in-depth coverage from bloggers Travis L. Brown, Randy Jennings and Jeff Andrews.
ESPNLosAngeles.com has grown the most out of all five local sites, with daily unique visitors in March up 68% and total minutes up 71% compared to the same month last year. It averages 2.7 million unique visitors and 10.4 million total minutes per month.
Since launch, the site – built on the two and a half-year success of ESPN’s owned and operated station’s (ESPN Radio 710 AM) web presence – has grown its team of authentic voices whose experiences have made them the ideal choice for serving L.A. sports fans and their teams, including Brian and Andy Kamenetzky, columnists and writers Arash Markazi and Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin, Mark Saxon and Tony Jackson. Additionally, veteran ESPN reports connected closely to Los Angeles that have frequently contributed to the site include J.A. Adande, Stephen A. Smith, John Ireland, Steve Mason and Shelley Smith. The site’s contributors also frequently dive into debate on the latest news with Hot Button exclusively on ESPNLosAngeles.com.
ESPNNewYork.com consistently logs the most traffic of all five sites, averaging 4.6 million unique visitors and 25.4 million total minutes per month. In March, the site’s daily unique visitors were up 49% and total minutes were up 44% compared to when it launched in April 2010.
The site has amassed a who’s who of New York sports writers and editors, helmed by vice president and executive editor Leon Carter, a news veteran with over 24 years of experience with the NY sports media world. Under his direction, ESPNNewYork.com has featured well-known contributors that report daily on some of the most storied franchises in sports to one of the most passionate fan bases in the country. They include Adam Rubin, Wally Matthews, Rich Cimini, Ohm Youngmisuk, Kieran Darcy, Jane McManus and Shaun Powell, columnists Ian O’Connor, Stephen A. Smith and Johnette Howard, ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan and Rob Parker and Andrew Marchand.
In addition to its daily ESPN New York SportsCenter, the site features exclusive video content from man-on-the-street interviews to scripted series including FanSpeak, Bold Predictions and The Pretty Good Sports Show, an original online series reporting the latest on the Mets, Yankees, and all things New York sports and culture as well as sketch segments with hosts by Matt Fisher and Adam Lustick.