If you try visiting the PA NewsCentre you might think your PC has been hijacked. The site is now presided over by an alleged virtual newscaster, Ananova, who brings you the latest news and sports stories in video, although probably not on your first visit.
The odds are that the first time you click on the play button you will get a message telling you that RealPlayer needs to download and install some additional software. Then you need to shut down your computer, reboot and get back online before experiencing the unimpressive Ananova.
Last week it was revealed that she is designed to be attractive to men and women and ultimately will be central to e-commerce conducted through the site. "It is important Ananova becomes someone you warm to, and trust to carry out transactions on your behalf," said an Ananova director. Personally I find it difficult to warm to an animated talking head with robotic intonation, and head and facial movements normally seen only in vintage documentary footage of flower-children full of dope and LSD.
Fortunately there is more to the site than dodgy hi-tech cartoons. PA news stories and results for individual sports are accessible via a pull-down menu, or using links from breaking news stories that are listed on the front page. However, last week neither the A-Z guide nor the built-in search engine was able to show what had happened to the old PA week-ahead fixture lists or the year's calendar of sporting events. Ananova has a two-day selective guide to sport on TV, and full seven day listings of all terrestrial, satellite and cable channels. For browsing the sports TV channels, this is probably quicker than using Sky digital's on-screen electronic programming guide.
Unfortunately details are sparse for the many magazine type programmes covering minority sports. If you want to watch in-line skating, you won't be able to find out if it's appearing in a specific episode of say, Fastrax or Sports Unlimited. Then again, you're unlikely to find that out from Sky - onscreen or on its web site. Sky.com has good coverage of the major sports. Its sport-by-sport TV listings is useful but only for major sports and those Sky is promoting such as speedway. A 10-day guide to live sports coverage, in Adobe Acrobat format, is available, but it takes so long to access (around quarter of an hour), that few will bother.
Sportlist.com is a site dedicated to sports TV listings. It gives the best choice of sports and clues you in to the relevant programmes as well as providing links to sport sites. It's mercifully free of cyberbabes, quick and easy to use. The only downside is that the editorial comments on programmes are taken from the blurb on Sky's EPG. So, Three Sixty Surfing, is described as a sport in its own right, rather than merely one manoeuvre in the surfing repertoire. And every episode in the series is described by the same general blurb with no clue about the specific competition each shows.
Ananova Sport www.ananova.com/sport/
Sportlist.com www.sportlist.com/Reuse content