ESPN Moves Into Boston Market, Debuts Local Site

With some questions about the future of The Boston Globe and seeming incessant hunger for sports information among New England fans, ESPN said it would move into the Boston market swiftly and launch a Web site covering the local teams., which follows the model of, is set to debut Sept. 14.

While the Web address has been owned by ESPN for some time, it has licensed it to local ESPN radio affiliate WAMG-AM, but recently reclaimed it. An ESPN representative said details are still being worked out about how the two may work together.

WAMG, owned by J Sports, also uses and could make that its exclusive destination.

The Boston Globe, long the epicenter of sports news and commentary in the market, has been hit by severe financial difficulties and there has been some -- though perhaps overplayed -- speculation that it may be shuttered. Even if it isn't, financial pressures may force the venerable newspaper to cut back on its sports coverage.



Separately, CBS Radio recently launched a sports radio station in the market to compete with the popular WEEI, as well as the ESPN affiliate.

ESPN has previously said it would launch local Web sites in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles in the next 10 months. But it could have seen an opening with some of the flux in the Boston media market and opted to move quickly.

With ESPN having such a long bench of writers and wealth of video on tap via its, launching a local site in any major city is practically a turnkey endeavor.

ESPN said it has signed a former Globe writer to cover the New England Patriots for, while it will employ reporters and bloggers to cover other teams.

The sports net also said some of the popular columns and podcasts by Boston native Bill Simmons will appear on both the Boston site and continue on It will also have a Boston-only online version of "SportsCenter" along with a run of other Web video. has no doubt benefited from promotion on ESPN's "SportsCenter," and the Boston site is likely to be plugged there as well. Launching in September could give an early lift, since fans may thirst for coverage of the Boston Red Sox gunning for the playoffs and the beginning of the Patriots season.

The Boston site launch offers a new wrinkle for ESPN, compared to its venture in Chicago and upcoming debuts in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles. The company owns the ESPN-branded radio outlets in each, allowing for streaming radio content to be made available.

Boston is the first market where there is no ESPN O&O. That could allow for a cooperative template to be established that would make ESPN's entry into other markets with a local site even smoother.

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