CBS SportsLine Gets Broadband Makeover

NEW YORK Viacom said it would relaunch CBS SportsLine.com to emphasize Web video, in a further attempt by the media company to capture more online advertising dollars.

CBS SportsLine.com, which Viacom bought outright in August 2004, will carry a variety of ad-supported video content, including football game previews, player interviews from CBS Sports and some game highlights. The revamped site will debut on Friday, and will carry pre-roll video ads.

“This is really part of a big transition going on in the media world to an on-demand world,” said Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital, in a conference call with reporters.

The move comes less than two months after CBS Digital relaunched CBS News to emphasize Web video, a fast-growing Net advertising category now that broadband access is widespread. Viacom has also rolled out broadband-designed sites for MTV and Nickelodeon.

CBS Sports plans to produce several pieces of original programming for the site, including National Football League and Southeastern Conference highlight shows and segments devoted to fantasy sports. For live sports events, the site will feature running commentary of the games, or what CBS is calling “glogs.”

Kramer said the new CBS SportsLine.com would have particular appeal during work hours, when most office workers have high-speed Internet access. “Our view is in the new world consumers are getting used to seeing these things when they want to,” he said.

Nike, Visa and UPS are among the advertisers for the relaunched site. CBS Digital, which Viacom formed in April under the direction of MatketWatch.com founder Kramer, sells advertising on CBSNews.com, CBS.com and CBS SportsLine.com.

With the emphasis on video, CBS Digital hopes to draw closer to the sports category’s leaders, ESPN.com, Yahoo Sports and Fox Sports. In July, CBS SportsLine.com drew 3.7 million visitors compared to ESPN.com’s 12.3 million, Yahoo Sports’ 10.4 million and Fox Sports’ 10.3 million, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

“We should be able to compete favorably with ESPN.com and any of the other dot-coms out there,” Kramer said.