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ESPN To Launch More Web-Exclusive Video- Forbes.com

ESPN Eyes More Web-Exclusive Video

Erhardt discussed the broad outlines of ESPN's plans during a panel discussion on sports programming Thursday at the Association of National Advertisers' TV & Everything Video Forum in New York.

Louis Hau, 02.29.08, 12:37 AM ET

ESPN posts lots of video content on its Web site, mostly in the form of brief clips featuring breaking news, game highlights and wrap-ups.

But the Walt Disney (nyse: DIS - news - people ) subsidiary is planning to get more ambitious in its use of Internet video later this year, with more Web-exclusive content and long-form video possibly part of the mix, according to Ed Erhardt, president of customer marketing and sales for ESPN and ABC Sports.

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When it comes to online video, "we know the short stuff really works,'' he said, noting, for instance, that clips derived from the network's popular SportsCenter wrap-up show generate heavy traffic.

"The question is, can you go longer form?'' Erhardt said.

Pointing out that ABC has been "very successful" with its advertising-supported online video player for full-episode TV shows, he said that ESPN sees an opportunity to use the player to distribute sports related programming too.

ESPN is also working on improving its video ad-serving capabilities. The network hopes eventually to give marketers the ability to purchase more targeted online video ad campaigns than they can right now, Erhardt said. One example: allowing those interested in reaching a football audience to, say, buy ad time on all of ESPN's National Football League video clips on Thursday and Friday afternoons.

"We'd like to talk to the 'video' buyer,'' Erhardt said. "The screen will matter less. The screen is either going to be one that you lean forward to, lean back from or have in your hands. The content will drive things."

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While ad revenue derived from online video is still dwarfed by TV advertising, it's growing at a much faster rate. That raises the question of whether online video could begin to cannibalize revenues from the core TV business.

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