ESPN.com told MediaWeek it is dropping its third-party ad networks, including Specific Media and several others left unnamed. “We’re heading down a path where it no longer suits our business needs to work with ad networks,” says sales exec Eric Johnson.
But ESPN (DIS) didn’t say whether its cutting ties with one of the world’s biggest: AOL’s Quigo (TWX), which claims ESPN.com as one of its highest-profile clients. As of this morning, Quigo was still selling ESPN.com inventory.
ESPN would understandably like the world to believe that it has no cut-rate or remnant ad inventory — or that its brand is so pristine that letting ad networks sell on its site will sully its reputation. But unless the company is going to drop all third-party networks, it’s hard to take that argument seriously.