Disney and Infoseek raise the curtain on Go

The duo are launching a preliminary version of their highly anticipated Web search and content aggregation site, Go Network.

Jim Hu Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jim Hu
covers home broadband services and the Net's portal giants.
Jim Hu
3 min read
Infoseek and Disney are launching a preliminary version of their highly anticipated Web search and content aggregation site, Go Network.

The new portal will feature content channels powered by Disney-owned Web properties--including ABC News, ESPN, Family.com, and Mr. Showbiz--as well as Infoseek-branded channels.

Go, set to become live today, will look and feel like most major portals, with the aforementioned category channels and links to a variety of resources and services. But the site will be family-oriented: adult ads won't run on Go and optional software will be available to filter search results.

Although Go follows the channel model, the site features a single entry point, or registration, for users who wish to create personalized pages, participate in community-related events, or access free email, chat rooms, and home page builders. Naturally enough, a green traffic light with "go" written across it resides in the upper right-hand corner of every page.

Web content control tools enable users to block Internet smut. "GOguardian," a Web search filter, will not execute searches on keywords that potentially could serve pornographic results. For example, the word "breast" will not yield results, but "breast cancer" will lead to a list of links powered by women?s site iVillage.

The filter must be turned on by users. Civil liberties groups still may not be appeased, having argued that Web filtering technology sometimes blocks sites that would not be considered pornographic.

As previously reported, Infoseek confirmed last week that it has barred sexually explicit advertising banners on any search result page. The policy also will apply to Go Network.

Go Network is the joint product of Disney, Infoseek, and Starwave, which Disney dealt to Infoseek as part of an equity deal in which Disney purchased a 43 percent share in the portal company. Go thus combines well-known Web properties under the Disney Web content canopy with Infoseek's search directory.

As a result, all the properties will be folded into Go Network; their URLs will default to a new one with the Go address. For example, ESPN's current Web address, "www.espn.com," will change to "espn.go.com" when the site emerges out of beta and launches in January.

"By putting them in the same domain, it allows us to share 'cookies,' and it's an easier method to share registrations and services across the network," said Barak Berkowitz, Infoseek senior vice president and portal site general manager. Cookies are electronic records of a user's characteristics and preferences.

By folding in some of its most popular content-specific Web sites (such as ESPN and ABC News) with Infoseek's established user base, Go Network will become the fourth most-visited portal on the Web, according to Berkowitz. Counting the 20 million visitors who overlap between Disney and Infoseek sites, the network is estimated to reach 34 percent of all Web users, he said.

Go Network is certainly the entertainment giant's most ambitious step into the Internet to date. Accordingly, Disney and Infoseek will launch a series of major advertising blitzes coinciding with the beta launch, the official launch in January, and a product-focused campaign in March or April.

The beta preview comes almost six months after Disney took a stake in Infoseek. Just a week before that move, NBC made an equity investment in the Snap portal, perhaps hastening Disney?s purchase.

Snap is a joint venture between NBC and CNET: The Computer Network, publisher of News.com.