Another ESPN (NYSE: DIS) story worth mentioning ... after 18 months of acquisitions and building, the Disney sports unit is launching its major online high school initiative aimed at 14-18 year olds. ESPNRise.com later today. (For now, it defaults to ESPNU's football recruiting site.) ESPNRise.com represents significant investment and a basket full of all of the company's high-school hopes. It's designed as "a complete source for national high school sports and lifestyle coverage" and a community that connects athletes, teammates, friends and families. The name comes from the acquisition late last year of School Sports Inc, publisher of RISE (now ESPN RISE) magazine and RISEmag.com, among others. Since 2006, ESPN also has acquired Hoopgurlz.com, Student Sports Inc., and what is now ESPN Scouts Inc.
Among other aspects, the site will:
-- emphasize coverage of high school sports with dedicated pages for every state, regional rankings, features and profiles on athletes and programs.
-- feature the usual bells and whistlesvideo, podcasts, photo sharing, dedicated blogs, widgets out the wazoo, Next month, users will be able to upload original video.
-- integrate and cross promote content with DyeStat.com (boy's and girl's track & field/cross country) and with regional sites CalHiSports.com (California) and MDVarsity.com (Maryland).
By Staci D. Kramer