AOL Overhauls Sports Site with Focus on Blogs

AOL
launched a new version of its sports site, http://sports.aol.com, that
focuses on community content and blogs, and leverages the power of its top
sports blog the FanHouse, http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/. AOL also rolled out
the new blog format on its news portal earlier this week,
http://news.aol.com. The overhauled sports and news sites build on
the success of the blog-centric format first used by celebrity gossip site
TMZ.com, which is a joint venture of AOL and Telepictures Productions.

In
addition to the new Web 2.0 features, the sports site features traditional
sports news, exclusive columnists, up-to-the-minute scoreboards, and
user-generated video. AOL also announced a new fantasy football
experience that provides simple sign up, and will include free live scoring,
line-up analyzer and free online draft kit.

The new
AOL Sports blog format invites discussion and debate about top sports
stories. Posts are tagged by topic and team so fans can easily find news on
their favorite team or rivals. The site also incorporates the FanHouse on
the main sports page, giving users the power to engage in a real-time
dialogue with other sports fans. Since the launch of the FanHouse last August,
page views to AOL Sports have grown 28%.1

“The
FanHouse has been our ‘slam dunk’ when it comes to community and this new
format leverages this strength to provide users with a dynamic Web 2.0
experience that incorporates our blogs, top industry news, and users’ voices,”
said Neal Scarbrough, Editor, AOL Sports. “Unlike other sites, our fantasy
sports offerings are entirely free. This year, we have made our feature
game, League Manager, among the easiest on the Web, with quick sign-up and free
live scoring to make it a simple and comprehensive experience.”

Among the
features of the new AOL Sports site:

The left
side of the page features exclusive content from the FanHouse, including links
to the most recent posts, most popular posts and tags to popular topics.

The center
column of the main AOL Sports page features regularly updated top sports
stories of the day, including photos, videos and polls, delivered in a
blog-style format that lets users vote and comment on each story. Stories are
tagged so fans can easily find what interests them the most.

The right
side of the page includes daily scoreboards and schedules, interactive
scoreboards, fantasy links, exclusive columnists, and constantly updated sports
headlines, photos and videos.

The
improved fantasy offerings include free league style games offering
express sign-up and a fully customizable game – League Manager.
With League Manager, users get free live scoring, robust commissioner
tools and access to a live draft room. In addition, all users
can access fantasy news and tools including a free online draft kit and
line-up analyzer to optimize users’ line-ups and can be used for teams on other
fantasy sites, not just AOL.

Fans can
sign-up now for the 2007 Fantasy Football season and review training camp
previews. The Fantasy Football draft starts in August and will feature a
fully-customizable game.