ESPN.com said last week that it has signed Nike Inc. as the first tenant in its new online shopping mall, set to launch in mid- to late October.
The Web site is revamping its electronic-commerce strategy. Last month, ESPN.com removed the online-shopping component it introduced two years ago. In the past, ESPN managed its own Web store and product inventory.
"We decided to find partners to do that for us," ESPN Internet Group general manager John Skipper said.
It's too early to say what percentage of the Web site's revenues will come from e-commerce, Skipper said. But he is confident that visitors to the ESPN.com site wear a significant amount of Nike-branded clothing, such as shoes and shorts.
With Nike and other retail partners to be named later, ESPN.com plans to look for creative and entertaining ways to market the merchandise online. The company also plans to do more consumer research and one-to-one marketing, such as identifying which of its online visitors are New York Yankees fans so it can pitch related products to them.
Skipper said ESPN would be careful not to take away other content to make room for the online merchandise. "We don't want to overcommercialize the site," he added. "People come to us for great sports content."