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CitySearch takes on more cities

Aiming to expand to 27 metropolitan areas by the end of the year, CitySearch is launching new guides in Maryland, Texas, and California.

Aiming to expand to 27 metropolitan areas by the end of the year, CitySearch today announced that it is launching more guides in the major hubs of Maryland, Texas, and California.

Through partnerships with the Baltimore Sun, Dallas Morning News, and San Diego Union-Tribune, CitySearch is setting up local guides in Baltimore, Maryland; Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; and San Diego, California.

As with its entertainment and news sites in other urban cores, the venture-backed CitySearch will design the guides for the newspapers, adding additional search technology. CitySearch makes money by building Web pages for local merchants featured in the guides.

Analysts are closely watching the battle over city guides, which includes players such as Microsoft's Sidewalk, America Online's Digital City, Yahoo, and the newspaper chains Knight-Ridder and Cox Interactive Media.

According to a study released by Find/SVP in September, 51 percent of Americans use the Net to access local information such as news, sports, and entertainment events, as well as business and residential listings. Find/SVP projected that city guide revenues could reach $500 million by 2000.

While competition for people wanting local information is increasing, it is unclear how many winners there will be in this space.

Both Digital City and Sidewalk have suffered layoffs of late. And some analysts predict there will be a shakeout among the competitors.

However, Charles Conn, chief executive of CitySearch, said in a recent interview that there is room in the market for multiple winners, likening the localized guide space to the radio market, in which there are several stations within each market.