SBD/1/Sports Media

WHAT'S UP ON THE WEB? THE NFL GOES IT ALONE

     John Helyar examines the sports presences on the World Wide
Web, summing up the current state of affairs by noting that
ESPNET's SportsZone has only one advertiser, Gatorade.  Helyar
writes, "Lots of content but little revenue; lots of potential
future multimedia breakthroughs but some maddening present-day
technological flaws; lots of players in this brave new world but
few likely winners."  Gene DeRose, who heads the online research
firm, Jupiter Communications:  "This is a medium that's even more
conducive to sports than television.  In terms of statistics, up-
to-the-minute scores, and ability to focus in on the specific
players and teams, it's just made for the very focused attention
of fans."  The following players have aligned:  ESPN-Starwave-
Microsoft; SportsLine USA-IMG; Baseball-MCI, the NHL-America
Online, and the NBA said to be "SportsZone bound."  But the NFL
has chosen the independent route (the NFLPA is working with
SportsLine).  The NFL's "Team NFL," which does have promotional
partnerships with SportsZone and Time Warner's Pathfinder, will
offer play-by-play progress reports on each game -- a feature the
league "promises to zealously reserve for itself and bar other
sports services from transmitting."  NFL Enterprises VP Ann
Kirschner, who is heading Team NFL:  "As a programmer, you have
much more flexibility this way; you look how you choose to look"
(WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/1).
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