ESPN Upfront: Free ESPN Local, Geo Apps, Social Games Deal With Playdom


ESPN (NYSE: DIS), which has already notched more than six million downloads for its free ScoreCenter app, continues to expand its digital presence on devices with six new mobile apps announced at today’s upfront. Five are actually localized versions of the same one, a free ESPN Local app that will launch first for with Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York to follow. The move also extends ESPN’s competition with local news orgs now getting into apps.

The most interesting one, though, may well be ESPN Passport, a geo-location app scheduled to launch in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and designed around the game experience. ESPN says users will be able to check in at games and create a mobile “scrapbook” through pictures and messages shared on various social platforms. ESPN will aggregate the check ins for user-gen coverage of events on, so if you download this app don’t try any sick-day sneaks.

The local apps will include local and national news; GOS-activated weather details; blog posts/tweets from local contributors; stadium guides; local SportsCenter video/audio; texting to ESPN radio. Nothing so far about personalization. A number of ad opps, including dynamic insertion in news stories, and in-app purchasing potential. ESPN says the local sites in Chicago, Boston, Dallas and LA are drawing more than 3.4 million users a month. just launched last month. More details in the release.

New social game: With licensing deals for a variety of console games, ESPN is no stranger to gaming. Now the network is getting into social gaming through a two-year deal with social gaming company Playdom. Starting this fall, ESPNM and Playdom plan to be on Facebook. MySpace (NYSE: NWS), Bebo (if there is a Bebo), and other social media sites, as well as their own and Mobile “extensions” are also planned. First up, a Farmville-like ESPNUville, according to SBJ. (ESPN PR says the ESPNUville isn’t a formal name, but was used to provide a comparison.) Release.

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