April 8, 2004 9:00 AM PDT

EarthLink takes swing at subscription sports

EarthLink expanded on Thursday its fee-based Internet services, launching a sports package through a deal with Web technology provider Synacor.

The EarthLink Premium Sports service consists of audio and video programming pieced together from existing Web content services offered by professional leagues including NASCAR, Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Hockey League (NHL). The service also includes content from sites focused on college athletics, fantasy sports and automotive magazine Motor Trend.

EarthLink, an Atlanta-based Internet service provider, is offering the package for $9.95 per month. The assorted Web feeds would retail for roughly $40 per month if purchased individually.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Synacor, which markets hosted e-mail and messaging services to ISPs, will integrate the various products into one product for EarthLink. This will give subscribers a single point for signing in.

The introduction of the sports service is EarthLink's latest attempt to generate revenue as its dial-up business struggles to hold on to customers.

On Wednesday, EarthLink announced that subscribers to its premium dial-up and high-speed access can get an eBay e-mail domain name. Dial-up customers continue to make up a lion's share of EarthLink's business, but the ISP hopes to add 550,000 customers this year largely by expanding its broadband subscriber base.

Rivals America Online and Microsoft's MSN recently struck similar deals to offer Major League Baseball games.

Microsoft is offering live audio and video of MLB games under a deal worth as much as $40 million over two years. AOL also plans to offer live audio streams and 20-minute video clips for each game, as part of a two-year, $9 million deal with MLB Advanced Media, the league's Web business.

Among the features of the EarthLink package is live event coverage and audio from inside racecars at NASCAR events, live audio and highlights from MLB games, and free fantasy football and baseball teams via SportingNews.com.

"Whether you are a NASCAR, baseball or hockey fan, one of the benefits of going online is having the ability to follow many of your favorite sports in real time," Tom Andrus, vice president of products and services at EarthLink, said in a statement.

 

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