ESPN To Use Widgets For Customized Sports Reports

Before a new-media application reaches critical mass--or even if it's behind the curve--ESPN moves aggressively to establish a beachhead. Now, the multi-platform brand is prepping for a major push into the domain of "widgets."

The company is keeping details under wraps and declining comment. But the aim appears to allow consumers the opportunity to customize sports news and information, in order to be frequently updated, for their desktops or other devices.

The function would have a particular use in the booming fantasy football area--a focus for ESPN and other sports media operations. On an "NFL Sunday," for example, "two-screen" fans watching one game on TV while also surfing the Web could set the widget up to provide real-time stats for players on their fantasy team.

The CEO of parent Disney, Bob Iger, spoke about the widget push at ESPN recently at an industry event. "They've got some really interesting products coming out," he noted, "including a widget center, so that ESPN widgets can live on just about any device known to man." (In fairness, other outlets from Yahoo to the Weather Channel have operated in the space for some time.)



In the "live" update area, Iger also said ESPN would be launching an "Ultimate Scoreboard" function--which he characterized as "a global results product that you'll be able to tap into" via multiple distribution avenues.

In addition to new media, the company has recently looked abroad for new revenue streams, including the acquisitions of rugby Web site and cricket destination

"They've done a good job of starting to move the brand internationally, albeit in baby steps in many respects, but nice growth and good investment," Iger added.

On the domestic front, ESPN moved into ad-supported video podcasts--it has offered audio versions for some time--with clips from shows such as the end of "PTI" and the first 10 minutes of "Around the Horn."

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