Monday, July 20, 2009

Sports News Online

today, the big development in the sportsosphere is the launching of three new local sports sites: ESPN new york, LA, and dallas. for the past few months ESPN has been running a local site for chicago, and according to dan shanoff, it has been such a rousing success that it has earned the title of the go-to place for chicago sports news, analysis, and commentary. the story was also talked about on the daily dish. it seems like ESPN is going to deliver a death blow to the one part of the newspaper that i still consider essential: the sports page.

one question, though: why did ESPN choose NY, LA, and dallas for expansion. chicago makes sense because there are a lot of sports in chicago and chicago is a good sports town. LA makes sense for the arguments laid out by shanoff and friedersdorf, and NY makes sense for the same reason as chicago. but dallas? dallas is a shitty sports town. only the cowgirls really hold anyone's attention in that town. the mavs are popular of late, and i guess having a beat devoted to mark cuban is good for traffic, but other than that, sports fans in dallas are a pretty lousy bunch. no one cares about the rangers or the stars. texas, so by extension dallas, has tons of college sports, so maybe ESPN thinks this is what will generate a lot of traffic for the dallas market. it could also quite possibly mean that the guys who do sports for the traditional news operations in dallas suck, so ESPN sees an opening there. i guess dallas isn't atlanta, but still...

why not philly? philly has WAY better sports than dallas, not just in terms of their teams suck (which they do - especially the cowgirls) but philly really likes its sports in the way dallas doesn't. we also are a MUCH bigger media market. NY, LA, and chicago are the top 3 media markets in the country. i guess by i was writing this i decided to look up the top MSAs (metropolitan statistical area) in the USA, and boy do i feel stupid. turns out dallas-ft. worth-arlington is the 4th largest MSA, with philly-camden-wilmington coming in 5th.

so, forget that. i'll go back to my less scientific, but still correct point that dallas sports suck and their fans are a bunch of front-running, all-cattle-no-steer, losers. seriously. dallas has a larger media market, but i wonder what the share of sports is in that market (fuck, this is where my east coast bias comes in. i forgot NASCAR. shit. there goes my whole post). you could probably analyze this by looking at ticket sales and attendance numbers across the sports universe (again another one hit me: high school football. they love that down there and i bet ESPN is looking for a good anchor into that relatively untapped market), and merch sales you can get a good idea of what it is. maybe lets make a list of sports teams/events in each area:

university of texas sports (not sure about the other schools in texas like a&m and texas tech, so lets just say U of T)
high school football
FC dallas (MLS)

penn state football
big 5 college basketball (along with a-10 and big east, but big 5 is the real one here)
high school basketball is a stretch, but i think other high school sports like the dad vail and penn relays are of significant interest, especially in the local market
philadelphia union (MLS)

were it not for NASCAR, i would argue that the "big 4" sports: baseball, hockey, basketball, and football (NFL) philly would hold the edge on the overall count (cowgirls probably generate more of a share than the eagles, but the others aren't even close), but NASCAR which has zero presence in philly but a huge one in texas just kills us.

so, in the end, i guess ESPN made the right decision in choosing dallas over philly. its also a possiblilty that they thought our print sports coverage is too good to break through, but i doubt it. oh well. maybe philadelphia will get an ESPN local in the next round. and dallas still sucks.

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