ESPN, the self-described “world leader in sports,” has announced the release of its first API for third-party developers. The ESPN Development Center went live recently, according to TechCrunch.

Developers looking to integrate ESPN content into their Web and mobile apps can now request a key to get started. In doing so, developers can access ESPN’s “Headlines API,” which will allow third-parties to use “the site’s news stories and headlines, find content related to any ESPN, create a “Top Stories” summary, etc.”

The Developer Center also includes a Research Notes API, which is now only available for strategic partners. This API gives developers access to ESPN’s archive of facts and figures compiled by “the stats geeks in the ESPN Stats and Information Group.”

In addition, ESPN will be launching several other APIs in private beta, including its Scores and Schedules API. These provide start times, venues and score across multiple sports. For the time being, these APIs will only be available for select ESPN partners.

ESPN’s move is certainly interesting and will likely change the way many of us get our sports news on an iDevice. Hopefully we’ll hear more about this very soon.