NFL Gives Site Video Makeover

NEW YORK If there’s one thing the National Football League zealously guards, it’s footage from its games.

Now, as teams near the start of the season in three weeks, the league is taking its trove of video online in an attempt to make its Web site rival those of ESPN and other broadcasters.

The new site is part of an effort by the NFL to establish its own media properties, like the NFL Network cable channel launched in 2003. This year marks the first season the league will operate the Web property on its own, having in previous years relied on CBS Sports.com (until this week known as CBS Sportline.com) to run the site.

“The ability to control your own destiny and be able to experiment and invest in building a robust platform was something we thought was best doing by ourselves,” said Hans Schroeder, vp and gm of NFL.com. “It was hard to figure out a way to evolve the platform when you’re doing it through a third party.”

The NFL hopes to make the site a competitive destination to big-time sports sites like CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! Sports with hours of video, including game highlights and historical footage. The site will run pre-roll spots from advertisers.

The NFL is also playing to the fantasy sports craze by compiling a statistical database for every player in the league’s history. CBS Sports continues to operate NFL.com’s fantasy league.

NFL sponsors Sprint, General Motors, Pepsi, FedEx, Burger King and Circuit City are all advertising on the site.

The league plans to promote the new site through in-game mentions and commercials during NFL games and an online media campaign.