X Games Goes Broadband Again

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ESPN will continue its foray into exclusive broadband coverage with the Winter X Games, this time involving customers in Comcast Corp.'s cable territory and select parts of AT&T Broadband's footprint.

Through Tuesday, high-speed cable modem customers throughout Comcast's territory and AT&T Broadband customers in Aspen, Colo., Boston, Maine and New Hampshire can access video clips, news, and standings from the games, staged Jan. 17 to Jan. 20 in Aspen. The content is timed for promotion with ESPN's televised coverage. The network would not provide a customer count.

A closed server system provided by Aerocast Inc. offers the exclusive content only to Comcast and AT&T Broadband cable modem customers.

This is ESPN's second such foray. Last year, distributed content from the Summer X Games to customers in Comcast's Philadelphia system.

"The point is that Comcast saw the power of what we were doing there," said Manish Jha, ESPN's vice president of broadband and ITV sales. "AT&T has jumped on board, and actually there has been a lot of interest from a lot of cable operators around the country."

Wider distribution was hampered in part by technical issues surrounding the troubled Excite@Home Corp. network, Jha noted.

Expanding the availability makes the distribution more complex, and "the key thing is that we are working with our distribution partners and creating co-branded user interfaces," Jha noted. "So the Comcast customer has a different interface and a different look and feel and branding than the AT&T customer."

Partnerships between network operators, technology providers and content providers will add value to broadband, "and we invite the industry to forge these kinds of partnerships so that there is a proliferation of content on the broadband platforms, and we can continue to create these kinds of compelling reasons for people to subscribe to cable-modem services," Jha said.

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