There was significant debate about the concept of Localism in Real Estate on the heals of our whitepaper on the topic.  The paper pointed out that a web strategy that links together hyperlocal websites with a central hub site will draw more traffic than a mega-portal.  Not content with being a sports colossus with broadcasts in 200 countries, ESPN is taking aim at hometown sports coverage, threatening one of the last strongholds of local newspapers and television stations.  And it is working!

After a promising test run in Chicago, ESPN is adding local offshoots to three more cities. On Monday, ESPN, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company, plans to announce local Web sites in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas – in what executives say is only the “first inning” of their effort to provide hyper-local sports coverage in cities across the country.  In less than three months, ESPN Chicago has become the citys top sports site, attracting about 590,000 unique visitors in June, according to data from comScore, an Internet measurement company. Second place went to The Tribunes online sports section with 455,000 unique visitors.

George W. Bodenheimer, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks: “Once ESPN establishes itself in local markets, it plans to move deeper into local sports – down to the high school level and perhaps beyond – by using social networking and other technology to inform its journalism.”  Sound familiar?  In the case of local real estate, the agents are the journalists, providing the best local coverage of real estate activities by area and neighborhood.

“Localization will not pad ESPNs bottom line anytime soon. But it could turn into a significant growth engine over time.” said Michael Morris of UBS. “But if this area takes off, and ESPNs success record is astounding, it could really add up in a hurry.”