ESPN (DIS) is late getting into the online high school sports market. To name a few competitors: Sports Illustrated (TWX) got into it last year by funding Takkle.com, and integrating the site onto SI.com; Hearst launched its own network last year; PrepChamps.com got a round of funding last month.
But ESPN RISE will be effective when it launches in August. Why? Because ESPN has the resources to build up the network in broadcast, print and online — and it looks like it’s going to do that. On TV, ESPN RISE will partner with ESPNU for content, and high school sports will have an increased focus on other ESPN programming, including SportsCenter. In print, ESPN is re-launching Rise Magazine, which they bought in December, as ESPN RISE Magazine. And digitally, ESPN RISE will be a social network that will allow kids to find coaches and other athletes as well as upload their own content.
Takkle.com has a relationship with Sports Illustrated, but neither can compete with the TV presence that ESPN has. Normally we’re sceptical about tie-ins between TV and online. But sports seems to be one area where it works.
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