Monday, December 06, 2010

Start-Up Talk: Launches

ESPN just launched If you aren't in the target market, it kind of doesn't matter what you think of it. If you are, I am very interested to hear what you think of it.

Let's look past fair questions about who the target audience is supposed to be. From a basic product standpoint, I like that it exists. I like that ESPN is trying it.

(Good moment for disclosure: A few years ago, I spent a bit of time talking with ESPN about an initiative they were planning for parents. The idea fizzled; it shouldn't have.)

Obviously, it helps that it is a tremendous opportunity for advertisers (which is why the site launched with Gatorade and Nike already locked in).

Katie Baker made a good point earlier this morning: The best way to think about the initiative is as in the same family as ESPN Local or ESPN RISE. I'd even go so far as to call it in the same vein as Heat Index.

That's not meant to marginalize women as a category. It is meant to say that sports fans have always fell into fairly neat boxes (if boxes of varying size and malleability): Sport, location, team, topic, event, affinity, tribe.

ESPNW represents a category that has, as yet, been mostly ignored by mainstream sports media. Is it fully formed out of the gate? No, but like virtually every other product in the history of media, it will take some time for the site to find its voice (and voices).

And the existence of the site alone shows the promise of being nimble enough to learn, to iterate and to grow where the opportunity goes. Among other things, I think that there is a huge opportunity in social media for ESPNW.

It was an idea worth pursuing -- and it is a site worth tracking.

And, hey, speaking of start-ups, don't forget to keep up with the progress of my new company, Quickish, by "liking" the Facebook page and following the Twitter feed.

-- D.S.

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