Thursday, December 18, 2008

ESPN launches sleeker site in bid to boost ads

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Walt Disney Co's ESPN sports network launched a sleeker, easier-to-use version of its website on Tuesday that it hopes will boost ad sales by hooking casual sports fans for longer stays.

The newly-redesigned site, at beta.espn.com, features a larger screen, more advanced video player and better search capability, and will run parallel to the current ESPN.com until the end of the month and will replace the old site on January 5.

John Skipper, ESPN chief content officer, said the network increased the site's video quotient and reworked its structure and technology to attract visitors who were overwhelmed by the old site's rich but jumbled content. By doing so they hope advertisers would follow.

"You don't care how many people tune in once a month... what you care about is how many people came, how long they stayed and how well engaged they were," Skipper told Reuters. "We think that is a compelling ad proposition to take to advertisers -- that we have the most engaged users."

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