ESPN360.com To Become ESPN3.com On April 42/10/2010 9:04 AM Eastern
ESPN is dropping the "60" from its ESPN360.com broadband video portal.
Effective April 4, the site -- which features some 3,500 live events per year ranging from soccer to college football -- will become ESPN3.com. The new name is intended to echo its two primary linear TV networks, ESPN and ESPN2.
"The name ESPN3.com more closely aligns with the existing naming convention for our networks," Sean Bratches, ESPN executive vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. "We have approached this as a network for years, and as users have become more accustomed to engaging with content across various screens, it made sense to make adjustments that reflect both the product's and the industry's evolution."
ESPN360.com currently is available to 50 million subscribers in the U.S. The service is free to customers of broadband service providers that pay ESPN a per-subscriber fee, a model akin to traditional cable TV distribution.
Internet service providers that offer the service include Comcast, Cox Communications, AT&T, Verizon, Charter Communications, Mediacom Communications, Insight Communications, RCN, Frontier, Cavalier, Conway and Grande Communications.
Critics of the model include the American Cable Association, which has argued that ESPN360.com requires broadband access providers to pay fees based on their total subscriber base even though a majority of customers will not watch sports programming on their computers.
When it relaunches in April, ESPN3.com will introduce new features and functionality that "will enhance the viewing experience"; however, ESPN didn't say what those would be, adding that details will be released closer to the launch date. The site already lets viewers pause and rewind live events; toggle among up to 20 events in a main viewing window; and view video in widescreen (16:9) and normal (4:3) screen sizes.
Events available on the broadband service include select NBA, Major League Baseball, college basketball, college football (including the BCS Bowl games beginning next season) and tennis matchups, as well as FIFA World Cup events and global qualifiers.