December 29, 2000
ESPN.com, the leading sports site, is wrapping up a year that saw it handily maintain its position as the premier producer of online sports content, introduce an innovative new means of selling Internet ads, and debut the pioneering, off-beat Page 2 feature. The site also experience record-breaking traffic numbers in September, with a site-record 7.4 million unique users, according to Media Metrix. ESPN.com is part of Walt Disney Internet Group (NYSE:DIG).
"Over the last year, we raised the bar of sports entertainment on the Internet to a new level and also reshaped the way sports sites operate via the introduction of the Big Impression ad unit, our free 3Play game, and irreverent Page 2 offering," said John Skipper, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Internet Group.
ESPN.com's 2000 highlights:ESPN.com has grown 23% in unique users from November 1999 to November 2000. September also brought ESPN Internet Group, producer of ESPN.com, its highest number of unique users ever with 10.8 million. ESPN.com has a 50% market share of page views among the top four sports producers - the SportsLine.com sites, FoxSports.com and CNNSI.com.
MilestonesThe launch of Page 2 in November added a new twist to online sports coverage, offering a fact-filled, fan-happy, serious and sometimes less-than-serious page that gives sports fans a fresh and different take on the world of sports. In addition to contributions from ESPN reporters and analysts, Page 2 offers opinions from writers and celebrities such as gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and author Richard Ben Cramer, who wrote the recently published Joe DiMaggio: A Hero's Life, along with a daily dose of opinions and rumors, a look inside the business of sports, a "Daily Rant" with user response, Top Five lists from ESPN experts and celebrities, and the special stat of the day.
In September, ESPN.com created and implemented a new advertising strategy - the Big Impression - that is now being used across all Walt Disney Internet Group sites. Among the advertisers who have utilized this new branding opportunity are Compaq, AT&T, Nike, Universal and J.C. Penney.
A new e-commerce strategy was also introduced this year with the ESPN.com Mall, featuring Nike and a Team Store powered by FanBuzz.com as tenants. The ESPN.com Mall, Shop@ESPN.com, assembles premier providers of sports merchandise and enables ESPN.com to offer a great variety and depth of products, while continuing to bring unique, exclusive offerings to ESPN users.
On April 1, ESPN.com launched 3 Play, a free game where users can win cash prizes based on the performance of professional athletes they've been randomly assigned. The game was created, produced and implemented in-house and has since garnered more than 60 million plays and two million unique users, and awarded a University of Nebraska student a $100,000 prize, part of which he used to start a scholarship in honor of his late father.
Several sites devoted exclusively to ESPN commentators were launched, including those for Dan Patrick, Chris Mortenson, Dick Vitale and Mel Kiper, Jr., providing users with exclusive insights, interaction opportunities, multimedia, and more.
The Walt Disney Internet Group manages some of the Internet's most popular Web sites, including ABC.com, ABCNEWS.com, ABCSports.com, Disney.com, Disneystore.com, DisneyTravel.com, ESPN.com, Family.com, GO.com, Movies.com, Mr. Showbiz, NASCAR Online, NBA.com, NFL.com and Soccernet. The Internet Group also includes The Walt Disney Company's direct marketing business. Steve Bornstein is chairman of Walt Disney Internet Group, which is headquartered in North Hollywood, Calif., with operations in Sunnyvale, Calif.; Seattle; New York; Bristol, Conn.; and London. For more information, visit our web site at www.dig.com (http://www.dig.com).