Look at ESPN, getting all startup-y

by Jeff Hilimire on August 13, 2013

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I love how some companies continue to evolve, especially the ones that you don’t necessarily see coming.

Like Lego. Lego is killing it. Instead of just staying a toy block company, they’re in video games and movies, and they have relationships with seemingly all the major players in child entertainment (Marvel, TNMT, Lord of the Rings, etc). They’re everywhere and as a result, on any given day my 6 and 8-year olds will spend multiple hours with Lego, either playing with the blocks or playing Batman Wii.

Nike has also moved past its origins as a shoe company – to a full clothing company – to being connected to runners via their phones and devices. What they’ve done with their brand over the past 20 years has been astounding.

And now ESPN is doing something that I think is really interesting. If you’ve ever checked out the Grantland website, you know its not your typical ESPN entity. Sure, they talk about sports, but they also talk about cultural events and entertainment, including this fantastic post about Breaking Bad. Grantland is the product of ESPN betting on Bill Simmons and saying to him, “Create something unique around long-form digital content, use your entrepreneurship and entertainment skills to create something really special. And we’ll essentially leave you to it and link to it from all over ESPN.com.” And it seems to be working.

Next up in ESPN’s bag of tricks is to do almost the same thing with Nate Silver. Yes, THAT Nate Silver, the guy that predicted the election getting all 50 states correct. He’s a statistician and analyst by trade and is taking his blog, FiveThirtyEight.com, from the NY Times over to ESPN.

I think its incredibly brilliant and somewhat brave of ESPN to allow this kind of content to be off of their main website and to back these guys the way they are. It’s very startup-y if you think about it. And its exactly the type of thing I’d be doing if I was running an entertainment/content company like ESPN.

  • tomerific

    Lego’s success is impressive. I recently heard that their licensing deals (with George Lucas/Disney, Marvel) were done out of necessity because the patent on the bricks expired and they needed an edge to make their produce unique. It is nice to see this level of innovation happen in sports!

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