Just in time for the Lakers playing on Christmas Day, ESPN is going to launch the local site in LA that everyone knew was coming.
And guess what: It's going to erode the local sports newspaper market share in precisely the same way it did in Chicago, Boston and Dallas.
Let's go through our usual review of ESPN's substantial assets in the LA sports market:
Start with this: There is no NFL team. That's a big deal. (And USC and Pete Carroll seem to love ESPN.)
Nope, LA is a basketball town. And ESPN already poached the Times' leading NBA voice -- JA Adande -- years ago. Oh, and Bill Simmons lives in LA. (Enough said.)
Meanwhile, the TrueHoop Network already has a partnership with leading Lakers blog ForumBlueandGold. And TrueHoop Network managing editor is Kevin Arnovitz, who is also the world's leading Clippers blogger.
If they want the Times' leading columnist, Bill Plaschke, all they have to do is cut video from his Around the Horn appearances. Hard for him to dutifully promote the Times' online sports offerings while he's being featured on ESPNLA.com.
Someone needs to Comment with an inventory of what ESPN has locally to cover the Dodgers and Angels -- beyond Adande and Simmons and the rest.
There is a studio outpost right in LA, meaning video content will be plentiful and easy to create.
And there are plenty of local bloggers available to contribute. I'd start with regular ESPN platform presences The Kamenetzky Brothers, who file a top-rate Lakers blog for the Times.
If ESPN really wanted to go big in LA -- really capture the glitz and the scene and the convergence of sports and Hollywood -- I'd go poach Arash Markazi from SI.com.
The local effort in LA will follow the same template as the first three cities: Instant traction, with the fans being better served than they are currently by the newspapers' distracted attempts to cover sports online. Oh, there will be posturing about how increased competition is a good thing, how the Times is ready to raise its game to serve fans that they purport to know best.
But do they really know the Lakers better than Adande? Do they really know the Clippers better than Arnovitz? Do they really have a lockdown on the confluence of celebrity and sports? All in an environment where they are cutting resources and strained more every quarter?
It will be fascinating to watch.
Guess what, NYC: You're next -- before baseball season starts. And it sounds like Pittsburgh is on the drawing board....