ESPN Falls to 3rd in Online Sports Site Rankings

Yahoo Sports is most popular and FoxSports.com is next as ESPN shifts its focus to developing its regional and niche sites

Yahoo Sports remained the most popular U.S. online sports site in January, but the most eye-catching news was ESPN.com falling to third place behind FoxSports.com.

Yahoo Sports had nearly 55 million unique visitors last month, topping FoxSports with roughly 38.6 million and ESPN with 38.2. million, according to ComScore.

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It's the first time in more than four years that ESPN has fallen out of the top two. The drop, according to Sports Business Daily, can be attributed to the sports titan's shedding of traffic from Active.com, which racked up 5.8 million unique visitors in January. In its place, ESPN has focused on its regional sites in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Dallas and Chicago and its new niche site Grantland. 

Fox Sports received a major boost from its Yardbarker blog network, which posted 21.4 million unique users during January, nearly as many as the 21.9 million generated by FoxSports.com itself.

While building for the future, ESPN can solace itself with the knowledge that it retains its big lead in time spent among sports sites. ESPN held a 32.1 percent share of the online sports audience compared to runner-up Yahoo's 19.9 percent last month.