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.

News Around the Web