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Fox Sports underlines Web strategy

A site built around one of TV's most colorful sports announcers furthers the plan of merging TV programming into Web content.

In its pursuit to continue merging TV programming into its Web content, Fox Sports Online unveiled a Web site built around one of Fox television's most colorful sports announcers.

AllMadden.com, named after football commentator John Madden, extends the strategy Fox began with its August 31 relaunch. Since then, Fox Sports has also blended Web and TV components of its NFL pre-game show.

The site's title is derived from the "All Madden" team created around Madden, a well-respected analyst, when he worked at CBS in the 1980s. Making a TV announcer a featured part of news or sports coverage is an established media convention, and AllMadden.com extends that to the Web, becoming one of the first sites to do so.

As coach of the Oakland Raiders, Madden compiled a highly successful record and won the 1977 Super Bowl. He television work is known for driving observations home in a frenetic style, and also for glorifying treatment of football?s workaday aspects, such as blocking or special teams duty.

Focusing on observations of NFL games and players, the site also features a multimedia tour of Madden's famous touring bus--Madden refuses to fly and travels to his assignments by coach--and plugs some of his outside interests, such as his cookbook.

AllMadden demonstrates Fox's commitment to catching Web sports leaders ESPN.com and CBS Sportsline by integrating TV programming, according to Scott Ehrlich, Fox Sports Online's senior vice president and executive producer.

Top sports sites are going to have "digital programming combined with the power of broadcast vehicles and the talent to do analysis," he noted. Talent is industry parlance for announcers.

"We think we have a huge advantage on the TV side and we're going to leverage that to get into play on the Net side. We recognize we?re starting late but we think the Fox Sports brand gives us a really good shot at leapfrogging our competitors," Ehrlich said.