ESPN360.com will adopt a new programming strategy this fall, becoming a live sports-driven programming service. Under the new programming strategy, the ESPN Digital Media and ESPN Programming units will collaborate to present more than 2000 live events on ESPN360.com in the next 12 months, dramatically growing the service's programming and delivering to fans live, multi-sport broadband action.
If you've already experienced ESPN360 or visit Find Internet TV
for live online event listings, you'll know that ESPN360 already features many events online. Some of the most notable were the World Cup and UEFA Soccer/Football Games. According to ESPN, ESPN360.com delivered more than 200 live online sports events in 2006, and through July 2007, had featured more than 500 live events.
Unlike sites offering pay-per-view Internet packages, ESPN360 has a rather unique approach and forms partnerships with broadband providers. Some of the largest providers, including Time Warner, Cox and Comcast, have not reached agreements with ESPN360 so anyone using their services will be unable to view programming on ESPN360.com. For those with a high-speed Internet connection from Charter Communications, Verizon, AT&T, or another afiliated provider, ESPN360.com is free. The service has more than doubled its distribution since August 2006 and will expand again this fall when it will become available to all RCN high speed Internet service subscribers.
"We do not like the current business model that ESPN is using for ESPN360," said Scott Hightower, vice president of data product development and support at Cox Communications.
He said the ESPN360 model would force Cox to add additional fees onto customers for paying for a service they may not want when they sign up for broadband.
Verizon and AT&T feel differently. "It is sort of like an arms race" right now in the video-online world, said Bill Heilig, Verizon's executive director for portal and content services. They view ESPN360's exclusive live World Cup coverage as an advantage that gave Verizon another weapon toward winning more customers.