By NICHOLAS MOORE
The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) is slowly, but surely taking over the online sports journalism world. According the alexa.com, ESPN’s site (espn.go.com) is the 18th most-viewed site in the U.S. and the 82nd most-viewed in the world, it also has more than five million Twitter followers. In comparison, the next largest American sports network, Fox Sports, has a website ranked 123rd in the nation for traffic and has accumulated just over 194,000 followers on twitter.
There are a few strategies that have made ESPN far above the rest in sports journalism, a lot dealing with their connectivity to other news sources and wide variety of coverage.
As football season, both college and professional, is in full swing, ESPN hires journalists to specifically write blogs about each division or conference. With that kind of manpower, most fans will be satisfied with getting daily updates about their home team and their immediate competition.
Making ESPN a portal for local sports coverage, many bloggers post links to more focused stories on particular teams and then open up their forums for discussion. All of the blogs easily give readers the ability to post on Facebook, Twitter, comment, or send my email with a few clicks of the mouse.
If you are a journalist looking for some quick statistical analysis to put in your story, ESPN.com isn’t a bad place to start either. The website has databases of stats for every player and team in every major sport (football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and college sports). Diving a little deeper in the page will box scores for every major sporting event covered in the country and they are updated in real time–the newspaper box scores are definitely a thing of the past.
Maybe the most interesting new edition to ESPN’s website is the ESPN Cities section.
Within the last two years, the network has selected five cities (Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas) to have their own home page where fans can instantly see the latest news on their favorite teams. The front page looks much like the normal ESPN page, except everything is centered around the city of choice. All stories, blogs, scores, and so forth are city-specific.
On some of these pages, even high school coverage is included. What does this mean? ESPN is starting to become more of an authority than local newspapers in these cities.
As the digital age of journalism becomes more and more apparent, ESPN will become even more of a sports journalism giant. With the vast amount of coverage and the depth the journalists provide, this empire isn’t going away any time soon.