ESPN Goes Local; Gets Domain Names

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ESPNI read that ESPN is going local in a variety of sports markets, and I noticed that they bought many of the domain names they will need to expand their online presence and protect the brand.   ESPN first went local in Chicago in April, and is known locally as ESPN Chicago, and they are planning to enter the Boston market in September. Assuming they find success, they will presumably continue to expand locally, in addition to radio stations they own in many large markets.

Although the network uses the ESPN.com URL for its Chicago site, they forward ESPNChicago.com to that preferred URL: ESPN.Go.com/Chicago. They also own many other domain names for markets in which they may have expansion plans. Some of the local domain names were purchased many years prior as part of the local ESPN radio network, while others have been purchased more recently. I did a quick scan of some of the bigger sports markets, and it looks like ESPN was on top of their domain registrations before making their announcement.

ESPNBoston.com – Registered 2005
ESPNChicago.com – Registered 1999
ESPNNewYork.com – Registered 2007
ESPNSeattle.com – Registered 2008
ESPNDallas.com – Registered 2007
ESPNDenver.com – Registered 2006
ESPNPhiladelphia.com – Registered 2009
ESPNMiami.com – Registered 2008 – Not owned by ESPN
ESPNNewOrleans.com – Registered 2009 – Not owned by ESPN
ESPNLosAngeles.com – Registered 2009
ESPNDenver.com – Registered 2006
ESPNDetroit.com – Registered 2007
ESPNSanFrancisco.com – Registered 2009
ESPNStLouis.com – Registered 2008
ESPNTampa.com – Registered 2009
Many more…

This is a credit to ESPN’s marketing smarts, because I have seen other companies decide that they are only going to use their primary URL and not worry about the local URLs. Unfortunately, when human nature takes over and people type-in what they assume will be the URL, they come across a domain name that isn’t owned by the company. In the end, the company ends up spending thousands of dollars purchasing the domain names from their cybersquatting owners, or they spend even more money on UDRP filings and other litigation.

Buying these domain names for $10/each now could save thousands of dollars in the future. Even if they don’t expand in all of those markets, they are still protecting the brand at a relatively low cost.

6 COMMENTS

  1. boston will launch in “september”?

    while that’s news to me maybe that why espnboston is now pointed at go.com instead of the local espn radio station’s property it was pointed to up until last week.

    should you be curious enough to submit espn.go.com/boston/ there’s even more fun in store.

    i only mention this because i was under the assumption espndallas was to up next.

    also, i see that cbssportsboston finally got their act together and properly redirected that one to its recent launch (was misdirected for the last 2-3 weeks to cbsportsboston.com. no kidding!)

    thanks for the info!

  2. So what are the legality issues with owning one of the espn******.com domains? If you owned espntampa.com for instance, would you be required to hand over the domain to espn?

  3. Thanks for the reply. I am curious if it would be possible to register one of these domains and post official ESPN news for the particular city yourself and not be infringing. Obviously you couldn’t post any ads or try to make a profit on the content though.

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