ESPN launches web site for women

Do women need their own place on the web to follow sports? ESPN is going to find out as yesterday it launched, a web site dedicated to offering sports content “geared toward female athletes and sports fans aged 18+.” The site, supported by a Twitter and Facebook presence, will incorporate posts by top female sports columnists and bloggers, pro athletes, and expert contributors. will initially take the form of a blog, ahead of a more robust web site with mobile applications and personalized content that is set to launch in Spring 2011. Coverage will be split between men’s and women’s sports, but there will also be more personalized features for female readers, such as advice on running and training.

Today’s posts include coverage of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, commentary on the continuing court battles between Jamie and Frank McCourt, and the induction of Sylvester Stallone into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

However, not everyone is sold on the idea of women having their own dedicated sports site. Some fear that it will reinforce the stereotype that women don’t understand sports or regular sports coverage, and resent the notion that ESPN is trying to serve up a “girlier” version.

Others see it as a natural extension of the ESPN brand. “I'm kind of in the ‘I don't see the harm’ camp,” Deadspin contributor Katie Baker told Business Insider. “ESPN has so many tentacles that it doesn't seem like a big deal that they'd have a dedicated women's site. And I actually do think that they could leverage social networking in ways that don't exist on ESPN proper if they go about it the right way.”

If espnW succeeds in building a significant female following, it could be a new and potentially lucrative demographic. ESPN's viewership is currently 76% male and 24% female , so there is plenty of room for growth. Perhaps recognizing the potential, Nike and Gatorade have signed on as launch partners.

Do women need a dedicated web site for sports coverage? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

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