Sports fans boost ESPN traffic; top sites unfazed

March Madness gooses Web traffic for sports and sports betting sites, but the biggest players are unruffled by the hubbub.

Sports fans boosted ESPN's status in ComScore's latest measurements of Web site traffic, but the top sites kept their rankings unchanged during March.

ESPN jumped from 46th place with 17.8 million page views from U.S. visitors in February to 34th place with 22.4 million page views in March, the month of the March Madness college basketball tournament and the Major League Baseball season opening, ComScore said.

Sports-related online gambling sites also saw a surge, with Sportingbet's visitor tally jumping 35 percent to 975,000, ComScore said. and, while smaller, also saw major gains.

The biggest players, however, were unruffled by these blips, with the top 10 unchanged in their relative rankings.

Yahoo kept the top spot with 140 million page views. Next were Google, with 138 million page views; Microsoft, with 121 million; AOL, with 111 million; and Fox Interactive, with 88 million.

ComScore makes its estimates of Web site visitors and page views based on the surfing behavior of about 2 million people at home, work, and college, with statistical extrapolations to gauge total traffic.

The methodology, though, hasn't sat well with Web site operators such as MySpace who say traffic is much higher and with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which last year asked ComScore and its rival, Nielsen/NetRatings, to submit their data to audits. (CNET Networks, which is's parent company, is among the IAB board members that approved the audit request.)

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