SportsLine.com Plans Branded Web Sites Across Asia

Internet sports media company SportsLine.com (Nasdaq: SPLN) announced today that it intends to form a joint venture to launch a series of Web sites across Asia that will provide information and sell sporting goods and licensed team apparel.

The firm said the upcoming Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and the 2002 World Cup soccer match in Korea and Japan are sporting showcases that are ideal for its planned venture.

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company and its European subsidiary Sports.com said they have signed a letter of intent with Asian Internet company Asiacontent.com to take a 20 percent stake in the joint venture. The companies will license their proprietary services, content and technology to Asiacontent.com.

Singapore-based Asiacontent.com will contribute the initial capital to the planned venture and provide operations, production, advertising and sponsorship sales support in exchange for a majority stake. SportsLine.com and its subsidiary, however, will have an option to increase their stake.

The companies said the venture will target China and all major Pacific Rim markets, offering local language Web sites, sports-oriented content, and e-commerce services. They will not target Japan initially, but are working on opportunities there, the companies said.

Timing is Everything

SportsLine.com has the backing of television network CBS, which owns an 18 percent stake, and has already proven it can put together an international venture. European-based Sports.com has raised over $50 million (US$) in backing, and attracted sports stars Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Tiger Woods as investors. Sports.com contributed $1.4 million in revenue to its parent last quarter.

Asiacontent.com integrates content, advertising and e-commerce and has launched 15 Web sites since its inception last May. The company has a staff of 325 in eight markets across Asia. It has joint venture agreements with CNET, controversial ad server DoubleClick and others.

While the Olympics and World Cup will have a worldwide impact, other sporting events in Asia have legions of dedicated fans. For example, sports like cricket in India and table tennis in China are ignored in the U.S., but they are as important to their populations as baseball is in America and soccer is in England and Italy.

The firms said that the joint venture will cover these regional sports as well as sports with a more worldwide appeal.

SportsLine’s Bottom Line

SportsLine.com said it derived 24 percent of its $39.2 million revenue for the nine months ended September 30, 1999 from its e-commerce operations, including online sales of sporting goods and licensed professional sports team apparel. Overall, the company booked a loss of $17.2 million for the same period.

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