RealTime IT News

EarthLink to AOL, MSN: Game On

Internet service providers, searching for ways to boost sales and keep customers, are turning to sports fans.

In the latest example, EarthLink will launch a premium sports package today that delivers audio and video content from Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League and college sports, fantasy sports games and statistics sites.

In recent weeks, MSN and AOL signed content deals with (MLB).

"The timing is working well really well for us, Major League Baseball is kicking off this week and some of the biggest Nascar races are coming up," said Mark Griffith, EarthLink's director of product marketing for value-added services.

While rivals MSN and AOL have sports offerings, EarthLink believes the streamlining of subscription services into a "one-stop shop" gives it an edge over competitors.

Customers will pay $9.95 per month for the service. Purchasing access to the various league sites separately would cost more than $40 per month, the Atlanta ISP said. The package will be offered to both dial-up and broadband customers.

EarthLink has teamed with Synacor to deliver the offering. The Buffalo, N.Y., firm's software platform allows ISPs to bundle a wide variety of subscription-only online content into their access products.

Synacor's technology also handles billing without the additional personal or credit card information. The subscriptions are billed through each Internet user's ISP.

The three-year-old company was formed by the merger of two Internet technology companies -- Chek and MyPersonal. Synacor is privately held and venture-backed by Intel Capital , among others.

EarthLink's Griffith said the ISP is always evaluating new content areas that might attract enough of a following to offer a premium service. The company already has a digital music and photo offerings, for example.