The Critical 'I'

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Saturday, May 08, 2004

MSN LEAVES ESPN, GOES TO FOXSPORTS
Microsoft is hitching its horse to another wagon in the online sports content world, as it's breaking up with ESPN.com and shifting its MSN services over to FoxSports.

As a fairly regular visitor to ESPN.com, I say good riddance. The branding wrap that MSN used on every ESPN.com page was fairly ugly, and didn't add anything at all other than links to Hotmail and other irrelevant crap. I'd like to think that that extra baggage is what made visiting the site such a chore, with every page loading up tons of bandwith-eating garbage; but I have a feeling that ESPN is behind that, and it's not going to change appreciably with MSN gone.

I hope Microsoft knows what it's getting into. Fox has been notoriously chintzy in operating FoxSports, making for an online property that's nowhere close to challenging ESPN as the top sporting site. I also wonder how this affects Fox's previous partnership with The Sporting News; MSN doesn't really fill the role that TSN does, but it's curious that TSN wasn't mentioned at all in this news.