SBJ/April 3 - 9, 2006/World Congress Of Sports

Online downturn is called unlikely

Risks & Rewards of Dot-Com

Sports media companies are bullish about the Internet space, seeing opportunity to grow revenue and increase traffic via added video content, according to panelists last week.

The Internet advertising market is “pretty insulated” from a potential market correction similar to what television experienced a few years ago, said JupiterResearch vice president and senior analyst David Card.

“It’s a relatively small part of spending right now,” Card said. “It’s pretty safe to assume it can grow a couple of points in that space and not tank completely.”

SI Digital President Jeff Price said, “Every advertiser is looking for ROI and the ability to prove metrics and success, and depending on what advertisers’ objectives are, it’s a very measurable medium.”

Christine Driessen, executive vice president and CFO at ESPN, said research indicates that 34 percent of some consumers’ media time is spent on the Internet. “If you compare that to the share of advertising that goes to the Internet,” Driessen said, “we’re incredibly undermonetized.”

Bob Bowman, president and CEO of MLB Advanced Media, said MLBAM wouldn’t re-evaluate its subscription-based model for MLB.com in light of success CBS had with its free March Madness On Demand offering. “If you want to get something of value, you’re going to pay a little bit for it,” he said. “I think the CBS model works for a three-week push, but for a six-month season, it’s more problematic.”

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