SBJ/August 28 - September 3, 2006/This Weeks News

New ESPNU site targets cstv.com

ESPN wants its ESPNU site to partner with
school and conference sites.
After ceding much of the online college sports space to CSTV over the last several years, ESPN is getting into the game in a big way this week with plans to launch a college sports Web site under the ESPNU banner.

The ESPNU site, expected to debut today, will have more streaming and interactive features than espn.com’s college sports tab offers. Eventually, ESPN wants the site to partner with established university and conference Web sites, a move that would put ESPNU.com in direct competition with cstv.com, which boasts a network of more than 250 official college athletic Web sites.

“There are a lot of possibilities,” said Jeff Cravens, the Web site’s senior director.

For example, Cravens referenced the amount of ESPN programming available on the site, from game clips to radio interviews to TV features, that can be tailored to specific schools.

ESPNU.com will feature a lot of broadband applications, with a multimedia player in a prominent position. That application will showcase game highlights, clips from ESPN shows such as “College GameDay” and clips from ESPNU shows “Inside the Polls,” “Recruiting Insider” and “Coaches Spotlight.” ESPNU also will roll out a daily podcast on its site and will carry exclusive video content for the Web from the stars of those shows.

“Our online programming will be different from our linear programming,” Cravens said. “People online don’t watch 30-minute shows. We want to give them impactful 1- to 2-minute clips.”

The site also will feature ESPN.com columnists and will have access to “GamePlan,” which offers out-of-market games for $21.95 a week or $129 a season. Those games can be viewed either live or on demand.

The site does not have a presenting sponsor yet, but one is expected to be signed.

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