MSN, Fox Sports Create Co-Branded Site

MSN and Fox Sports are creating a co-branded site leveraging Fox’s extensive sports coverage and MSN’s wide reach and high-resolution video technology. The new site will replace ESPN as MSN’s preferred sports content provider, concluding the former partners’ three-year-long deal.

FoxSports on MSN will run behind-the-scenes video and analysis from events including the 2004 Major League Baseball All Star Game, the 2004 National Football League season and the 2005 Super Bowl, along with other content. The site,, launches July 1.

As part of the multi-year deal, MSN and Fox will offer integrated ad packages with online and broadcast elements. Advertisers will be able to purchase online video ads that will roll before and after the video sports clips, along with rich media, traditional banners and other ads. MSN will be the exclusive distributor and provider for all advertising on the co-branded site.

“If you want to see a clip from the Best Damn Sports Show, you launch MSN Video and an ad will show just as it comes up. Then it will show after your experience as well,” said Karen Redetzki, product manager for US-MSN Emerging Services.

Jeff Lanctot, VP media for Avenue A, said, “The most compelling thing is the online video piece. MSN has been a leader with the introduction of MSN Video in January. This is the next step in that evolution. I see 2004 as the year video comes of age for consumers.”

The growth of video advertising may have been one factor behind the switch of partners for MSN. ESPN’s ESPN Motion offering, which showcases video ads and content on the front page of the site, has proven a popular placement with advertisers. MSN didn’t handle the sales for the ESPN site, however, and it presumably didn’t share in the revenue. That will change with the new partnership.

“The two areas that will really lead consumer adoption of online video will be sports and music,” said Lanctot. “This deal with MSN and Fox will take sports videos to an even greater audience.

“They’ll [MSN and Fox] see good advertiser revenue. But it will be a time to figure out what formats will work the best. 2005 is when you will see serious advertising dollars behind video,” Lanctot said.

Fox broadcasts more professional and collegiate games than any other broadcast outlet in the U.S., more than 6,000 games a year. MSN has extensive reach, claiming more than 350 million unique users worldwide per month.

FoxSports on MSN will be the only non-subscription online site for exclusive Fox Sports content, including behind-the-scenes footage from the “Best Damn Sports Show”. The site will also offer expert commentary from “Fox NFL Sunday”‘s Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson. Also, the site will offer personalization features including highlights from regional sports reports, as well as a fantasy sports league.

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