October 08, 2001

Attracted by up-to-the-minute scores and game highlights, sports fans overwhelmingly value content over appearance when visiting sports Web sites, according to the 2001 J.D. Power and Associates Sports Web Site Study.

Sports Web site audiences most frequently visit areas that deal primarily with information and factual content, including sports headlines, game schedules, feature articles, standings and team information. Forty-four percent of user satisfaction is accounted for by the quality of the site’s content, followed in smaller percentages by ease of use and appearance.

"Above all else, sports fans are looking for the most up-to-date information on scores and schedules," said Jim Howland, research manager at J.D. Power and Associates. "The areas that provide basic, just-the-facts sports information as opposed to entertainment-oriented content, such as chat rooms and fantasy sports, generate the highest traffic within sports Web sites. While fans in the past have had to wait to get that information from TV news and newspapers, they can now access it whenever they want to on their computers, making these Web sites both popular and highly useful to their audiences."

Typically, the Web sites that perform well in the study deliver consistently high scores across factors such as content, ease of use and appearance. ESPN.com users have especially high praise for the site’s attention to all three factors. Users indicate that game scores and highlights on ESPN.com are easy to find and are prominently displayed along with the latest features, photos and sports analyses.

SportingNews.com and SportsLine.com are two other general media sports sites that score especially well among users.

Sport-specific league sites also perform well in the study. NHL.com and NBA.com users rate these sites particularly high in content and appearance. The NHL and NBA were nearing the end of their seasons when the survey was fielded.

"Sports Web sites have a great advantage in attracting loyal users because they are constantly updating information that people want," said Glenn Goodstein, director of the sports group at J.D. Power and Associates. "The sites that present timely information in a clear and easy-to-follow format do well at satisfying their audiences, and fans are more likely to repeatedly visit the site."

Other sites evaluated in the study include CNNSI.com, FoxSports.com, MLB.com, NASCAR.com, NFL.com, PGATour.com and Yahoo! Sports.

The 2001 Sports Web Site Study includes more than 4,200 Web site user evaluations regarding the quality and usefulness of 12 general and sports-specific sites.

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