ESPN to Test Broadband


ESPN will give its new ESPN Broadband Internet service a test run on Friday,
when the network plans to partner with Comcast Corp. to offer broadband content
to cable modem customers in the Philadelphia area during the X Games.

The initiative will give Comcast's high-speed Internet subscribers access to
on-demand content from the X Games, which are being held in Philadelphia
from Aug. 17-23. Subscribers will also have access to sports highlights, news
clips, statistics, standings and background information. San Diego-based
Aerocast Inc. will provide the streaming services for the content, which will be
cached locally in Philadelphia, free of charge, a source said.

ESPN unveiled ESPN Broadband in June at the National Show. The company has
yet to cut any distribution deals with cable affiliates, including Comcast. But
ESPN executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Sean Bratches
said that he expects to finalize the first ESPN Broadband affiliate deal within
the next two months.

Bratches said ESPN remains open to multiple business models. The network may
offer ESPN Broadband for free in one market as an 'added value,' or charge
subscribers in another market on a per use basis in order to find the most
effective model.

'We don't have any preconceived notions of a model,' Bratches said.

If ESPN ends up charging a subscription fee for the broadband content, which
will be cached locally, it will give the cable operator a cut the revenue,
Bratches said. Operators will also be given an inventory of ad space on the
broadband site to sell on their own, he added.