ESPN Launching Local Sites

Debuts ESPNChicago.com in April
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The so-called "Worldwide Leader in Sports" is taking it down to street level, as ESPN debuts ESPNChicago.com in April, with subsequent local sites to follow. The site will offer a daily Chicago version of SportsCenter, reports the Wall Street Journal, with contributions from ESPN columnists and commentators with ties to the Windy City.

The Journal reports that MillerCoors is on board as a "charter advertiser" for the venture.

The project would certainly seem to be harsh news for the Chicago TV stations, and stations in general, which have for years seen their sports content shrunk as viewers gather their pertinent scores and scoops from the Web and ESPN's ubiquitous multiplatform reach.

The sports giant's strategy calls to mind Huffington Post, which announced last summer it was taking its socio-political punditry to the local level, also with a Chicago debut. Huffington Post has been tight-lipped about its expansion plans, though founder Arianna Huffington has said she envisions local chapters in "dozens of U.S. cities." She selected Chicago for the debut, which happened in August, for the city's "vibrant mix of politics, sports, business, music, food, and urban life."

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