The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

SPORTING NEWS, FOX SPORTS MERGE ONLINE
In an effort to become only one also-ran, instead of the current two, behind ESPN.com, SportingNews.com and FoxSports.com have agreed to combine their online operations. They'll stay separate in the offline world, naturally.

I see from from this related release that Sporting News' President and CEO is one Rick Allen. The magazine and related properties happen to be owned by Microsoft co-founder, and all-around rich guy, Paul Allen (through his Vulcan Ventures fund). Strictly speculating here, so take it for no more than that, but I'm wondering if Rick is related to Paul.

While this move should benefit both parties, I don't see it raising their profile to the level that ESPN now has. Let's face it, Bristol is the first thing you think of for general sports media. Sports Illustrated can't even match them online. I doubt this combined entity will either.

For Fox, this is the latest in a long line of cheap-o approaches to their online presence. Until recently, they've had their website co-hosted and co-branded with Lycos, at "foxsports.lycos.com" (it appears they've ditched that now for their own URL). Even more heinous, they recently fired their entire reporting staff and have taken to putting the opportunity to report on sporting events up for bid on eBay; so that rather than having to pay writers, Fox gets amateurs to pay for the privilege of covering an event! Unbelievable.