Today I started playing with the recently launched MyESPN service. It is actually pretty neat. The service is kind of like the mega-popular Start Page service NetVibes, except it is a bit more closed and is focused on sports. Here is my core dump of thoughts on the service:
– Super smart to have a fantasy module
– Should integrate Start Page accounts with other service accounts
– Need more widgets than simple RSS readers
– Love the fact that it gives you content modules for teams
– Am not a fan of registering before doing anything cool
– Would be neat to import Widgets from outside ESPN
– Would be neat if ESPN Widgets could leave the ESPN “zone”
– Ads on a startpage…when will NetVibes follow suit?
Is this the beginning of a larger trend towards established media companies launching module-based, personalized aggregation sites? Media companies are already hot on building, or buying, social network capabilities. If they made moves to create module-based platforms that would be consistent with that investment trend.
Regardless of their inclination, it remains to be seen whether the introduction of vertical-focused, start page services by media companies will fly with users. My guess is that in high-involvement categories, it might work out well. However, one might argue that – in the short run – content providers like ESPN are better off simply syndicating their content as Widgets to existing aggregation sites (NetVibes, Live, Google, PageFlakes, MySpace, Blogger, etc) until they figure out the terrain. I suppose they will ultimately have to try both approaches to see what mix makes the most sense. Although the personalized web application front is a bit like the Wild West, one thing is for certain, media companies definitely are starting to think big things about those little Widgets.