CBS Calls an Online Audible

Sportsline.com will be donning a new uniform for the upcoming football season. The popular CBS (NYSE: CBS  ) website was reborn as CBSSports.com yesterday, a change that makes the site an obvious ambassador to the CBS Sports programming brand.

As someone who participates in a pair of fantasy football leagues run on the site, I wasn't surprised by the name change. The timing is another story. We're now just two weeks from the start of the NFL season, with the website hosting tons of league fantasy drafts as we speak, and now it slips in a new name.

Naturally, Sportsline.com is still a valid link. CBS realizes that it may take months -- if not years -- for fans to edit their browser bookmarks. Old links simply redirect to the new site. It's the same familiar design and layout. Only the name and logo have changed.

Yes, the move makes sense. It's a reflection of where the company's rivals hang out. Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) ESPN works out of ESPN.com. News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) teams up with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) to power the online presence of Fox Sports at -- you guessed it -- FoxSports.com.

Still, I can't get over the timing of the move. This site is a giant in fantasy football. You haven't played fantasy football until you've taken up Sportsline -- er, I mean CBS Sports -- on its ability to pull up your league scores from the living room, through its partnership with TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) . One can argue that this is the perfect time for the brand makeover, just before the season starts, but diehard fantasy football buffs have been eating, sleeping, and drinking fantasy football since the NFL draft back in the spring and the eventual start of training camp. It's just that big.  

A recent study by market researcher Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts that fantasy football will cost companies $435 million a week in lost productivity, as 10 million fantasy team owners partake in the rotisserie contests.

CBS, banking on the belief that the distinction is now clearer to advertisers, will make the most of the new site. The move will also push its own CBS Sports brand up in the website rankings. It's coming to play, even if the new jersey is still clean.

For related Foolishness:

Disney and TiVo are Stock Advisor recommendations. Find out why with a free 30-day trial subscription.

Microsoft is an Inside Value pick.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been playing in fantasy football leagues since the early 1990s. He thinks he's pretty good at it, looking to win his third consecutive championship in one of his two leagues this season. He owns shares in  Netflix and Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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