AOL Software to Help Redskins Fans Connect
The Washington Redskins have turned to AOL for a little help in tapping the social networking phenomenon that's sweeping the Internet -- just in time for this Sunday's kickoff against Miami.
Under an agreement announcd this afternoon, AOL will operate a service called Redskins Connect on the team's official Web site that gives fans new ways to show their love for the burgundy and gold. The new features are free through www.redskins.com, according to a statement from Dulles-based AOL.
Through Redskins Connect, fans can create individual profiles, akin to those found on social-networking sites like Myspace.com. Fans can also post photographs and video and register for a free e-mail address from one of five domains with a theme honoring Washington's home team.
"We are thrilled to offer Redskins Connect to team fans," said Janice Schmidt, senior vice president of marketing for the Washington Redskins. "By selecting AOL to power this set of products and services, I know that fans will receive a terrific experience."
So far, the Redskins are the only NFL franchise for which AOL is providing this service. In partnering with AOL, the team turned to a neighbor -- Redskins Park in Ashburn is just a few miles down the road from AOL's headquarters.
For all of today's fanfare, the new service's success may hinge on how well the Redskins do this season. Last year, the team finished 5-11 and missed the playoffs, and fans are hoping for a better record.
A quick test of the offerings yielded mixed results. Creating a personalized e-mail account was a breeze, and the video section already had 18 tracks posted -- including five featuring the Redskinettes.
But clicking on the fan chat link produced a message saying the service was not yet active and that "finishing touches" were being applied. The site promises that live chats will up and running by the start of the season. And three attempts to access the fan photo gallery caused my computer's browser to freeze. (Of course, those failures could be traced to the ancient Windows 2000 operating system powering the newsroom computers.)
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