Brooks Barnes of the NEW YORK TIMES has a story today on why the flagging fortunes of the local sports media in your life is about to take the final leg down.
(ESPN: Closing In On The Perfect Corporate Monolith)
Barnes reports that in less than three months, the Chicago-centric ESPN website has 23% more visitors than the sports area of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE website. Now you know why the Tribune is so desperate to hire Chicago-based bomb-thrower Jay Marrioti.
Emboldened by steamrolling the yocals in Chicago, ESPN is now set to roll out similar sites in New York, L.A. and Dallas. Barnes has various reax from the rapidly-fossilizing outlets in the crosshairs, who don’t seem to realize they’re on the brink of extinction. (Craigslist ring a bell?)
Response from the LAT:
At The Los Angeles Times, which is about to face ESPN head-on, the associate editor, Randy Harvey, said: “It would be foolish to underestimate ESPN, but it comes down to resources. I don’t see them being able to replicate what we do.”
This from a sports department that often neglects to staff road games of a local NBA and NHL team. And whose top columnist, Bill Plaschke, appears on ESPN almost daily.
Once ESPN puts the new sites in place, L.A. and Dallas will be a walkover, while winning over the New York audience will be a longer, pitched battle. But the unlimited resources of the Disney-backed corporate monolith will eventually win out.
Mind you, the attack on local sports media won’t be limited to newspapers. ESPN is also looking to sweep up the smoldering remains of local sports TV. (Even the 90-second local sports newscast wasn’t overlooked!)
The site also offers a daily Chicago edition, three to six minutes long, of its flagship “SportsCenter” program.
“Huge” is how Stacey Woelfel, chairman of the Radio Television News Directors Association, described the potential threat to TV stations, in part because their Web presence in sports “tends to be fairly weak.”
The main reason ESPN will inevitably win all these local market battles is it will eventually hire the best talent from the competition. So for the 14 of you out there under the age of 60 that still follow your favorite local newspaper columnist or sportscaster, you’ll soon be consuming them from an ESPN source.
All this continues to be great news for blogs like SbB. The more of a monopoly sports media becomes, the more bland and generic the coverage. And the more opportunity for us to bring you fascinating stories that ESPN sports media cartel will deliberately ignore for its own business purposes. (See broadcast rights agreements with all the major sports leagues.)