ESPN, the sports media arm of the Walt Disney corporation, has released a beta version of its streamlined site with the fully featured version set to go live on January 5th. The launch comes at a time when ESPN has witnessed ad sales lagging on its network of television channels due in no small part to the slowing economy. Reducing clutter, particularly on the homepage, became the clear goal with the year long redesign, a move the company hopes will attract more users in the sought after 18-34 year old male demographic, in turn making the site more appealing to potential advertisers.
To that end, the NY Times reports:
The new ESPN.com will give advertisers eight options for displaying messages on its most heavily visited pages, up from three. A spokesman said the site will introduce in January a new video advertising option specifically with movie studios in mind.
In addition to cleaning up the overall appearance of the site, ESPN has also built in extra functionality – improving their search engine capabilities and creating customizable features for users who have signed up for their online community. But the interesting takeaway, remains the company’s decision to rethink their site’s real estate from the perspective of advertisers.
New design or not, ESPN has chosen to walk a fine line. Tipping the scales too far in the direction of advertisers could cause an adverse reaction among its users, driving them elsewhere, but if they’re able to strike the right balance between content and ads, we expect to see other companies adopting similar models in the near future.
[via Paid Content]