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SUPERBOWL.COM: A TEST IN BIG-EVENT ONLINE PRODUCTION
Published January 26, 1996
The official Super Bowl site on the World Wide Web, produced in a partnership by the NFL, NBC and Microsoft, is located at superbowl.com. Superbowl.com operators estimate that the site received over 600,000 hits a day after the conference championships and will average close to one million hits over the final weekend. Execs at both NBC and the NFL said they are pleased with their results, despite the short start-up time for development. BACKGROUND: NBC Sports Senior VP/Programming Jon Miller told THE DAILY that they saw the Web as a "blank screen." Miller: "We wanted to move the needle forward and were able to use our great partnership with the NFL to create an even bigger internet presence. We wanted to push the envelope to find out all we could." Ann Kirschner, VP/NFL Enterprises, said the site is the "most ambitions integration of a live event on the internet," and said the league and now has a "nice growing entity" on the Web where they "can hang a lot of multimedia" in the future. POINT, CLICK ... AND CASH IN? The site has the support of eight advertisers, but is backed primarily by Microsoft, which paid $225,000 for title sponsorship. Sponsors: Cathay Pacific Airlines, Visa, Time Warner, Ziff Davis, MCI Music Now, Sony, Oscar Meyer, and MCI Marketplace. Advertisers were given a choice of paying either $100,000 for a banner or four cents every time a browser hits the advertisers page. According to Andrew Batkin of Interactive Marketing, the firm in charge of selling online ads, every sponsor has opted for the pay-per-visit route. Batkin said even the sponsors "who haven't been affiliated with the page for long will pay at least $25,000, so advertisers, depending on their time with us will pay anywhere from $25,000 and up." Miller said NBC has made money on the venture. Miller: "We are pleasantly surprised on the amount of interest shown by advertisers. NBC is doing quite well with this." Kirschner added, "We've hit our projections right on the button." NEXT YEAR, AND BEYOND: Batkin said, if involved in a similar project in '97, they would like more official NFL/Super Bowl sponsors to participate. But he did note the late start of this year's effort, adding, "There was no history to the traffic and no guarantee of what traffic would be like." Kirschner said the league is learning how sponsors gain value out of an online presence, with the ideal future advertiser having a more integrated, creative approach -- through links to their own Web presence. Batkin also predicted the trend will be for sponsors to become more interactive and contextual on Web sites through promotions and sweepstakes where sponsors can link and send traffic to their own Web sites. Miller said NBC will continue its foray into sports cyberspace, with plans for a Web presence with the NBA and professional golf (THE DAILY).