SBD/9/Sports Media

ESPNET SPORTZONE ESTABLISHES ITSELF AS HOT SPOT ON THE WEB

     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).
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