Is ESPN Really "The Worldwide Leader in Sports"?

There are more sports television channels than ever, and new sports websites popping up every day, but ESPN is the self-declared "Worldwide Leader in Sports." So just how accurate is that tagline online?

While consistently being the leader throughout height the baseball and football seasons, it seems that the slow sports months early in the year hit ESPN harder than both Yahoo! Sports and Sports Illustrated, which actually grew significantly despite relatively little sports news in the past two months.

I recently joined, an interactive sports site that starts the sign-up process with a list of statements which users agree or disagree with. One of the first statements was, "ESPN is biased towards certain teams." With this being such a prominent question and sites like regularly taking aim at "the worldwide leader," it seems like there is a rising tide against ESPN.

Although Deadspin is part of the popular media and pop culture Gawker network of blogs, it doesn’t have the marketing power of ESPN or Yahoo! to drive UVs, so engagement may be a more even playing field.

  • Deadspin and ESPN have been relatively similar in terms of average stay over the past year, but Yahoo! Sports nearly doubles them both, with an average stay hovering around 8 minutes.
  • Even though Deadspin readers may not like ESPN, most still aren’t avoiding it — 53% of Deadspin visitors also visited ESPN in February, while only 34% went to Yahoo! Sports. 26% of users went to both ESPN and Yahoo! Sports.
  • ESPN readers come back to the site more regularly, with an average of 10.8 monthly visits per unique visitor over last year, as compared to 4.9 for Yahoo! Sports.

We’ll have to check back in as winter sports playoffs and the baseball season start, but there just might be a new name atop the leader board in online sports.

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