ESPN, which is 80 percent owned by Disney and 20 percent owned by Hearst, has been a leader in verticalizing its brand and content, with dozens of properties covering everything from the core network to ESPN Desportes to the retail stores. Web sites and online radio have played prominently in the vertical mix.
Now The Wall Street Journal reports that ESPN will leverage some of its properties — especially ESPN Radio — to launch its first ESPN local-oriented Web site in Chicago, the location of several other “local” launches (HuffingtonPost, RHD’s ChicagoB2B.com, others). The site, slated to launch in April with MillerCoors as a charter sponsor, will feature a daily Chicago version of “Sportscenter,” ESPN columnists and local radio personalities.
It is likely that the site will grab some of the audience from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Currently, type-in traffic for ESPNChicago.com goes to ESPN Radio 1000, “Chicagoland’s Leader in Sports.”