ESPN to Launch Women's Brand: What's Good, What's Bad, What's Puzzling

More
ESPNW.jpg

ESPN

Multimedia sports behemoth ESPN is trying to attract a new audience: women. The company is launching a new "sub-brand" called ESPN W that will start out as a blog and may turn into its own channel—for now, there's just a Twitter feed.

ESPN W is already stirring up controversy, and it's bound to generate more when the new blog actually launches. But for now, whats good, bad, and puzzling about the venture?

The good: Any time women are recognized as sports fans, it's good news. Almost 40 years after the passage of Title IX, we have nearly two generations of women who grew up playing sports and rooting for their favorite teams and athletes. But there aren't many (any?) publications that cater to an audience of female sports fans. Magazines like Self and Shape promote female fitness and participation in athletics, but they don't speak to women as fans.

More good news: The logo is a bold, tasteful red—not the predictable female-signaling pink.

The bad: As a blogger on the site Chicago Now put it, "Women already HAVE an ESPN. It's called ESPN." In other words, women who like sports can just watch sports—they don't need a special channel to feed them coverage or make sports more palatable.

Messages from the @ESPNW twitter feed like this one—which sings the praises of luxury sportswear brand Lulu Lemon—do not bode well for the quality of ESPN's women-centric coverage.

The puzzling: It's not entirely clear what kind of coverage this new brand will offer. Will it focus solely on female athletes? Or will it feature stories that women are drawn to, regardless of whether they are actually about women?

Women are not necessarily interested in stories that are only about women. Case in point: the ESPN program with the highest percentage of female viewers is The National Spelling Bee, which features both male and female participants. Wimbledon coverage, which also includes both men and women athletes, has the third-highest female percentage. It seems like a tricky, potentially problematic task to determine what programming women want.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to a Seaside Town in Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where the Wild Things Go

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Adults Need Playtime Too

When was the last time you played your favorite childhood game?

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In