Recently, while looking to see how poorly my NCAA tourney bracket had fared, I scrutinized my browser’s address bar and pondered, “why is ESPN, the leading sports news website, a subdomain of go.com?” I had noticed that espn.com redirects to espn.go.com, but had never considered why this is, or even bothered seeing what go.com was about. If you’d like to travel back to 1999, please type go.com into your address bar. Optimized for 800 by 600 resolution with search powered by Yahoo!, go.com is an aging relic of the internet portal days*, once relevant when Google was still in diapers. After reading up on the Wikipedia history of go.com, it seems that it started as joint venture between Infoseek and Disney** and it was originally launched in January of 1999 with content from Disney, ABCNews and ESPN. Six months later, when Disney bought out Infoseek, Go.com became the umbrella company managing various internet properties including ESPN and ABC. Then only two years later, Disney closed Go.com, laying off 400 employees, stalling development on its game-changing IE Toolbar. Despite its ephemeral corporate existence, Go.com continues to host ESPN, ABC and ABCNews on its domain, respectively as espn.go.com, abc.go.com and and abcnews.go.com. It is baffling to me that ESPN, the brand for sports news, would continue to have its domain adorned with go.com. Go.com does not add any value to ESPN or ABCNews or ABC domains for that matter. All these domains could be entirely free-standing. Logically connecting them via an ancient web portal domain can only detract from their value, especially when the parent domain delivers dated, irrelevant content. I can only speculate why go.com is still around as a parent domain, and if I were to guess, I would say that within Disney maybe that’s “just the way it is.” Enacting large-scale IT change within a corporation the size of Disney’s, is either met with resistance, or met with a lack of budget due to it’s unclear value proposition. I don’t know, maybe there have been internal projects to unchain ESPN that have just failed to get off the ground, maybe there’s actually a technical constraint, like the entire internet will break if go.com is decomissioned. Regardless, I admire ESPN’s website for its content and video delivery, I believe its domain should stand on its own, saving us all three characters in our browser address bars.
*Besides Go.com I also found Excite to still be live.
**Disney doesn’t just own Mickey, it also owns various cable networks including ESPN, ABC, A&E, LifeTime along with the theme parks and other media.