KFC and World Cup battle: Star vs NST

Nope, not chicken. Kena Fried, Computer.

Ok, so that doesn’t work, but you get the idea – my home PC is dead. I would think it went peacefully in the night while dreaming of cute floppy drives and CD-ROMance (geddit? geddit?).

Anyway, thanks to its untimely demise, I was without access to the internet for the entire weekend, which meant I missed all emails sent to me (which numbered a grand total of 1 – that too from work, so it’s no biggie).

More importantly, it meant I couldn’t update this blog (or Hantu Bola or the newly-launched Chit-Chat Bola) with my much-anticipated opinions of the various World Cup matches played so far. (Cheh-wah, perasan gila…)

By the time I came back to the office, all the resident football (armchair-)experts of the world have already given their 2 cents on the matter (of course, the bulk of which concerned the mighty mighty Inglaterra), so I figure I should give my take on other matters.

Let’s see now, what topic shall I completely and randomly and without any vested interest should I pick on now?

Oh, how about this – how NST compares with The Star on their respective online coverage of the World Cup? Yup, completely random topic, just popped into my head this very second. Honest. *cough*

The Star World Cup front page - Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The Star World Cup site front page.

NST World Cup front page - Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
NST World Cup section front page

Whoa! Notice something? Both sites have the exact same front page content. Well, it’s not really a big deal – a quick look at the material will tell you that both content pages are from AFP, which means that both The Star and NST must have purchased the same package from the French news agency. An unfortunate coincidence, absolutely.

Having said that, the AFP package is relatively rich in content, lots of stories and articles about everything that World Cup would want to devour. But since both sites have the same content, let’s just the skip it and move on to other features on the respective websites.

At a glance, The Star’s World Cup minisite has a Flash-based fixtures page (from AFP too), World Cup Blog, Polls, Podcast (while you’re at it, speak some German too!), Match ratings (where YOU can rate the match), SMS features, TV Match schedules (in local time yo!), Squad Info, free e-paper of the special edition Star World Cup pullout, wallpaper downloads, and the usual contests/promos.

Phew! Now let’s see what NST has to offer.

NST’s World Cup site has a poll (with only question so far apparently), a blog (and I’ll be honest – it looks kinda nice), a forum (completely under-utilised, by the way), and something called Kicks::2006.

Yup, that’s it. From the surface, it appears that The Star has way more stuff than NST. The Star’s polls are better, although in the blog wars, I’d say NST might have an edge (although The Star will have more bloggers contributing, so this battle ain’t over yet), NST’s World Cup forum just plain sucks (sorry, but it does), and Star’s wallpaper downloads and match ratings and local TV listings certainly give it a leg up on the competition.

But wait! What’s this Kick::2006 thingy?

To find out, I surfed over to the site, and waited for the Flash page to load.

And waited……. and waited…….. and waited…….. and waited…….. and waited……..

Let me tell ya something, I’m on a broadband connection here, and even then it takes me ages to load this thing. Once the front page (after you clicked past the inevitable landing page) finally finished loading, I was already disheartened. But, in the interests of investigative muck-racking, I decided to plough on.

There seems to be some interesting stuff, like the Star Players section, which lists the heads of the players and when you mouse over the head, a star appears in the background – creative.

But damn, try clicking on the head…. and nothing happens. At least nothing happened from where I was sitting.

A videos section had all the famous Pepsi videos, featuring the likes of Beckham and Roberto Carlos, etc.. Time to load video – forever.

There also was an intriguing link called Antibola Blogspot, but clicking on it again led to nowhere.

So, all in all, the Kicks::2006 site seems a bust for me. No point having all this flashy-flashy stuff and yet not allowing the user to interact properly with it.

In terms of design and navigability, it’s obvious The Star has the better look and feel. The flow is good, and the ads don’t distract.

The NST’s design on the other hand looks all kucar-kacir (helter-skelter). The major impression one gets from the site is that it is all a last-minute thing, something to put together just to satisfy possibly some last-minute directive from the top:

NST Big-wig: Dude, we got World Cup site ah?
NST Small-wig: World Cup? Nope. We just link to Soccernet la.
NST Big-wig: Let’s put one up. Just cobble together something, no need anything big.
NST Small-wig: Hokay dokey.

The Star’s site on the other hand looks like it is made by fans for fans. And I have it on good authority that this is true.

At the end of the day, you probably don’t go to any of these sites for the info – there’s already plenty of that from other more established sites around the world. But if you want to get infected with the World Cup fever, Malaysian-style, then a visit to The Star’s World Cup site is a better choice compared to NST’s section.

Yes, that’s my honest and unbiased opinion on these two sites. Yessss.. *cough*

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