SBD/11/Sports Media

MARCH MADNESS HITS THE WEB AS RECORD NUMBERS ARE EXPECTED

          Following record site traffic levels set during the
     Winter Games, the next three weeks of NCAA basketball
     "promise to eclipse all previous totals on the Net,
     including the Super Bowl and World Series," according to
     BRANDWEEK's Steve Ditlea.  Total Sports is the producer and
     partner of the official NCAA Web site, www.Finalfour.net,
     and company President George Schlukbier called the NCAA
     tournament "the strongest affinity-based national sports
     event."  In '97, Total Sports generated "nearly 10 million
     page views and 2.5 million ad impressions" from its Final
     Four site.  This year, it "expects to triple the traffic
     with cybercasts of 63 men's games and 15 women's games in
     streaming audio and still pictures" (BRANDWEEK, 3/9 issue).
          TARGET DEMO: BRANDWEEK's Ditlea writes that "widespread
     office pools" and regional-only TV coverage in the
     tournament's early stages "makes the Web the medium of
     choice for the largely male, college-educated demographic
     attracted by this event (and the advertisers who seek
     them)."  The "busiest" times will be on Thursday and Friday
     for first-round games.  ESPN Assistant Managing Editor Jim
     Jenks called the "biggest usage time" from noon to 1:00pm
     ET, on weekdays, as Ditlea notes that "fans apparently feel
     little guilt in using workplace computers to access sports
     sites during lunch time" (BRANDWEEK, 3/9 issue).
          HIGHER LEARNING: The FANSonly Network said its '97
     royalty payments to its member university ADs totalled more
     than $200,000.  FANSonly also announced that Georgetown,
     Alabama, Ole Miss, UCLA and Washington are the newest
     members of the its group of college Web sites (FANSonly).
          ESPN'S CHALLENGE: ESPN SportsZone had 177,000 entrants
     in its tournament prediction contest last year, as well as
     "thousands more who used it for information and statistics." 
     This year, the site "expects more entries," and has "made
     preparations to deal with the traffic."  Its home page has
     "fewer graphics and other data this week so it will load
     faster for visitors" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 3/11).
          LISTEN UP: AudioNet, www.audionet, will have live play-
     by-play action of men's and women's NCAA tournament games,
     sponsored by Microsoft Corp. and CBS SportsLine (AudioNet).

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