SBJ/October 18 - 24, 2004/E Sports

Yahoo! Sports retreats from espn.com tie, but holds No. 2

ESPN.com in September rebuilt its lead in traffic among sports Web sites after watching its margin disappear in August, according to the latest figures from Nielsen/NetRatings.

ESPN.com drew 14.54 million unique U.S. visitors in September, roughly unchanged from its August performance of 14.56 million unique visitors, according to the figures.

Yahoo! Sports, which in August nearly caught espn.com thanks to the site’s expanded Olympics coverage and fantasy football, in September dropped back to 11.6 million unique visitors. That was still good for second place on a list that also included the NFL Internet Network in third place, FoxSports.com in fourth and mlb.com in fifth.

Yahoo! Sports spokesman Dan Berger said the falloff was anticipated because of the one-time bump the Olympics provided. But Berger noted that September still was the second-highest traffic month in the history of the site.

Yahoo! Sports also led all sites in average time spent on the site, about an hour and a half per visitor. In a clear indication that a site’s share of the fantasy football market correlates positively with time spent on the site, espn.com and SportsLine.com (which ranked seventh in traffic in September) were the only other sites averaging more than an hour spent per visitor.

FoxSports.com, which in July became the official sports destination on MSN, has held on to virtually all of the additional visitors that deal delivered, drawing 9.7 million unique visitors in September, compared with 9.9 million in August and 9.4 million in July. The NFL Internet Network overtook FoxSports.com for the monthly ranking’s No. 3 position, capitalizing on the start of the football season to draw nearly 11 million people to nfl.com and the 32 team sites.

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