The new ESPNBoston.com launched yesterday, coinciding with the start of the Patriots season on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
This is the second localized ESPN site that the company has launched, following ESPNChicago.com. Dallas, Los Angeles and New York are planned in the next year.
Regular initial contributors to the Boston site are as follows:
- Mike Reiss – Former Boston Globe NFL writer, who will cover the New England Patriots;
- Tedy Bruschi – Three-time New England Patriots Super Bowl champion will offer his NFL insights and analysis in multiple contributions per week;
- Peter Gammons – Hall of Fame honored ESPN Baseball analyst and Boston-area native who spent nearly 15 years at the Globe will contribute columns on the Red Sox;
- Michael Smith– Sr. Writer for ESPN.com and E:60 correspondent who spent three years covering the Patriots during the recent Super Bowl runs will contribute coverage of Boston sports;
- Howard Bryant – ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine senior writer, Boston native, Western Mass. resident and former Boston Heraldwriter, will contribute reporting and columns on New England Sports;
- Amy K. Nelson – ESPN.com writer, born-and-raised in the Boston area and a graduate of Hampshire college, will cover the Boston Red Sox daily and author a Red Sox blog;
- Matt Kalman – Boston-area journalist and blogger who will author Boston Bruins blog.
Grabbing Reiss as the cornerstone piece of the site was a great move, and it weakens potential competitor Boston.com at the same time. (Really, the only reason I now have to go to Boston.com other than the morning Globe stories is Chad Finn.) Kalman has a great Bruins blog (thebruinsblog.net) and is also a great hire for the site. Interestingly, the Boston Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, will not be doing original columns for the site, though he did do a chat for the launch last night.
Getting original columns from Gammons will be a treat, having the thought-provoking Bryant back on the local radar is a positive, and Michael Smith will be a welcome addition as well, as I haven’t seen too much of him in the ESPN empire. What remains to be seen of course, is how much original content we’re going to get from this trio.
In the weeks ahead, ESPNBoston.com will also add dedicated reporter/blogger coverage of the Boston Celtics, New England Revolution and major collegiate sports programs in the area. The site will also grow to offer small college and regional high school coverage.
Overseeing the day-to-day editorial operations of ESPNBoston.com are Managing Editor Peter Lawrence-Riddell, a native of Amherst, Mass., graduate of Bates College in Maine and 10-year veteran of ESPN.com, and senior editor David Lefort, a Whitinsville, Mass. native and the former online sports editor for the Boston Globe.
The site is the home of ESPNBoston SportsCenter, hosted by ESPN anchors and produced originally each day. The video series will provide fans a 3-6 minute roundup of the city and region’s sports news, teams, highlights, figures and stories each day.
The new site also features a custom Boston video hub, offering a library for the latest highlights, news, analysis and original content from ESPN programs including exclusive, original Boston content from the teams at ESPN programs including Baseball Tonight, NFL Live, College Football Liveand more. The 16×9 video player will be featured on the front page and main index pages delivering an integrated video experience.
The player does auto-start when you load the page, which is a little annoying, especially if you’re working in a quiet office, but in the lower right hand corner of the video screen, you can choose to turn the auto-play on or off.
Last night the site had a chat with Bill Simmons which started at 7:00pm, and ended at 9:20pm. Gammons and Bruschi had also held chats earlier in the day.
The site layout is clean, well laid out, and easy to navigate. There’s a lot of content there without being overly “busy” like some other local sites can be at times.
While there is a lot of “recycled” content, both from the main ESPN.com site and from wire and AP reports, it’s pretty nice to have all the Boston content in one place. As for the original content, Reiss is the big draw to start with, and he has already picked up on many of his familiar features on his blog, including formation statistics and inactives analysis. Reiss was also on the ESPN pregame show last night, where they pimped the site a little bit.
Overall, the online competition in Boston is heating up. With ESPNBoston.com would seem to impact the sports side of Boston.com the most, but is also a new competitor for WEEI.com…which given some of the rumorsout there, could be an interesting scenario. CSNNE.com plans to relaunch their site sometime in the fourth quarter, harnessing their new content from NECN, and creating a site of local voices, video content and fan interaction.
All of this adds up to plenty of options for Boston sports fans – the real winner of all this competition.