It’s no secret that ESPN’s change of their website this past January, was to create more space for advertising. After initially not enjoying the new look, it started to grow on me, but that was until today. The “Leader” has decided to move the headlines on the right to a spot below the fold, so they can add EVEN MORE advertising to the front page, and they’re even admitting to it. Via Sports Business Daily…. has altered its site design unveiled in January, shifting the list of headlines below the rotation of top stories and video links, and significantly expanding the amount of ad space available immediately to the right of those top stories. That ad position, one of the most popular slots in all of digital sports media, was initially used for a set of spots from Apple. On many standard computer monitors and laptops, the new design will require some downward scrolling to access the additional headlines.

ESPN execs said the new design, arriving organically since the January relaunch, marked an attempt at flexibility with regard to both content and advertising. “We are constantly working with our advertisers to be innovative while maintaining an optimal user experience. Today’s ad is one example of a new execution we tried,” said ESPN PR Manager Paul Melvin. “We’ll evaluate its impact and effectiveness and use those learnings as we move forward.”

Now I understand the need for advertising on the site, but you have to get the headlines back above the fold. There is plenty of room for both, especially when the two ads at the top are for the exact same company. I expect they’ll be getting a pretty negative response to this move.

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