NFL calls marketing play with CBS, AOL


The National Football League struck a multi-year deal with CBS, America Online Inc, and to market and promote professional football.

Under terms of the agreement unveiled Wednesday, SportsLine, the CBS-owned sports Web site, will produce and host, a league site. That's a major coup for SportsLine, which supplants ESPN and the Disney Internet group in that role. SportsLine gets 50% of the first $140 million in gross revenues for the NFL site, and pays a licensing fee to gain exclusive NFL content, including video highlights. "As a broadcast partner of the NFL, it is very exciting to now be partners on the internet and various other new media initiatives," said Sean McManus, CBS Sports president in a prepared statement.

SportsLine will also be handling fantasy sports for AOL, as part of a five-year deal extension between the two companies.

The four partners also will explore additional opportunities in technology-based media. The four-way partnership includes online cross-promotion and marketing of the NFL with America Online, and with CBS. It also will take advantage of Viacom's other media properties, including Paramount Studios and MTV, VH1 and the Nickelodeon cable TV channels.

- Richard Tedesco