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ESPNET SPORTZONE ESTABLISHES ITSELF AS HOT SPOT ON THE WEB
Published May 9, 1995
Starwave, after "more than a year of spinning its wheels," has gone "into overdrive" and the Paul Allen-backed company's partnership with ESPN "could push interactive advertising to new levels," writes Charles Waltner in the latest issue of AD AGE. ESPN is seeking more than $1M each for six to eight sponsorship spots on its ESPNET SportZone service. That rate covers all of ESPN's services, including SportZone and "most likely a continued presence on Prodigy." ESPN is also "anxiously awaiting" the addition of Allen's Ticketmaster service to SportZone (AD AGE, 5/8 issue). A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS: In a release, ESPN reports that since its debut at the Final Four on April 1, ESPNET SportZone has been accessed by an average of 50,000 different users per day and "set new records for usage, exceeding 1.5 million hits per day." (A hit is defined as a single user calling up a single page.) Starwave VP Online Services Tom Phillips: "SportZone users are spending more than 15 minutes online per visit, which demonstrates the tremendous depth and breadth of sports content." ESPN Enterprises VP Tom Hagopian noted the potential of SportZone as a "marketing vehicle": "ESPNET SportZone offers advertisers the power of interactive communication, which allows them to combine the elements of advertising, direct response and promotion to a desirable, hard-to-reach audience." ESPNET Senior Coordinating Producer Eric Schoenfeld: "We have limitless potential for expansion -- unlike television we have no constraints" (ESPN). WHAT'S NEXT? In Toronto, Geoffrey Rowan notes that only Penthouse and Playboy's Web sites have more visitors than SportZone. Starwave Product Manager Brian Raitzliff said "broadband" -- full interactive, video services -- is the "ultimate goal," as well as "the user being in control" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/9). ESPN Enterprises was one of 13 companies to disclose tentative plans for software and services for Microsoft's interactive TV venture, according to the computer company (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/9).