Impact of ESPN Local

Over the weekend, the New York Times revealed that ESPN is continuing its push into local markets. On Monday, ESPN announced new sites for New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, which will join its test site for Chicago.

Marketing Pilgrim is calling this yet another nail in the coffin of newspapers, and saying it may impact local television stations as well.


While ESPN certainly has a wide reach, can it truly provide the staff needed to cover a city, except in the biggest cities? I’m not so sure.

Certainly this is bad news for the Chicago Tribune, which is already on the edge, but I doubt the impact elsewhere will be that substantial, except for a handful of top markets.

It’s not clear that ESPN knows how to sell to the advertisers that would want to place on these sites. ESPN is used to working with national agencies and advertisers, not local businesses. ESPN’s current sales staff is unlikely to want to work such smaller deals, which come with smaller commissions. Will they hire a new sales department to work with such advertisers?

Or will they offer a self-serve model like Google AdWords? This is a large reason why Google succeeded with smaller advertisers.

This is certainly an interesting move by ESPN, but I think it’s too early to call it the end of local media and press.