Monday, October 18, 2010

ESPN Slowly Introducing Online Brand for Women

In its three decades of existence, ESPN has built a vast sports empire that has aimed to attract nearly every slice of the American sports audience, from teenagers to Hispanics to college students to baby boomers. But it has done little to cater to one group that makes up a quarter of its television audience: women.

That is about to change. This fall, the network is gradually introducing espnW, a brand marketed to women that will begin in the spring as a digital presence and could eventually expand to television. Today, it is little more than a Twitter account and a Facebook page, but already the idea has been warmly received by leaders in women’s sports, who have long been pining for news media coverage. ESPN courted an A-list of women’s sports figures at a retreat earlier this month, including executives like Stacey Allaster of the Women’s Tennis Association and star athletes like the softball player Jennie Finch and the snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler.

“They’ve made the commitment,” Billie Jean King, who was also at the retreat, said. “I don’t think there’s ever been this much planning, research and commitment before.”

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