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Yahoo sports site fights to be a winner

The portal giant launches a new look for Yahoo Sports in hopes of catching up with rivals ESPN.com and CBS SportsLine.com.

Yahoo on Friday launched a redesign of its sports site in hopes of keeping pace with sports Web rivals ESPN.com and CBS SportsLine.com.

The new look for Yahoo Sports borrows some cosmetic inspiration from ESPN.com, with the lead sports story and graphics dominating the home page. Along the right column sits a larger window featuring animated advertisements and sponsorships. Below that is a window that lists scores from professional leagues.

The relaunch of Yahoo Sports is the first step in a series of changes for the site. Over the coming weeks, Yahoo will allow visitors to customize the page according to their preferred teams and leagues. The site will also offer extensive player and team profile pages, alerts for mobile devices, and more graphics, among other features.

"Our aim is to be on par with our competitors," a Yahoo representative said.

But according to one measurement firm, Yahoo has a lot of ground to cover. As of December, ESPN.com remains the most popular sports site with 13.4 million unique visitors. America Online came in second, with 8.6 million users, and SportsLine with 7.5 million. Yahoo trailed at 4.9 million.

The initial changes on Yahoo Sports will be followed by deals with new content partners, although the company representative declined to name them. New paid services will not immediately be part of the relaunch.

Yahoo on Wednesday reported its third consecutive profitable financial quarter. The Web portal reported a net income of $46.2 million, or 8 cents a share, on sales of $285.8 million for the period ending Dec. 31, 2002.