In the form of a sports-crazed, cyber-savvy twentysomething, interacting with athletes and ESPN on-air talent, "Netboy brought together all that was ESPN," said Mr. Kalin, who oversaw the campaign created by Ground Zero, Santa Monica, Calif. The campaign sought to legitimize the service with the TV network's credibility. Its tone was reminiscent of the mock-realism in ESPN's "This is SportsCenter" campaign, by Wieden & Kennedy, New York.
The ads position visiting ESPN SportsZone, said Mr. Kalin, as "an everyday ritual." Netboy has become such an icon, he's been employed for tune-in promos for programming.
As of April, ESPN SportsZone could claim an average of 7 million page views daily.
Mr. Kalin has been more than just Netboy at ESPN Internet Ventures. He also oversaw the revamp and relaunch of ESPN Sports-Zone's subscription service to ESPN Insider in February.
In his current role, Mr. Kalin handles marketing activities for the venture and new-business development, especially in the areas of distribution and brand extensions.
But that role is bound to change for Mr. Kalin, who's married with two children and a third on the way.
With its parent, Walt Disney Co., buying its partner, Starwave, ESPN Internet Ventures is being streamlined into the Buena Vista Internet Group. While structure has yet to be finalized, Mr. Kalin most likely will focus exclusively on new business development.
Betcha didn't know: A sports fan himself, Mr. Kalin enjoys watching basketball and football the most. But when it comes to participation, "I'm a passionate golfer," he says. "But I'm a horrendous putter."