The National Football League rejected a bid from ESPN.com of $250 million to continue producing the league's Web site over the next five years, sources report.
The initial offer from ESPN.com reportedly included $50 million in cash up front and $150 million in promotional value. ESPN.com's current deal to produce the popular NFL site expires on April 23 and the online sports programmer now finds itself facing a bidding war with at least three other rivals for the contract, including CBS-affiliated SportsLine.com, AOL Time Warner, Micorsoft and Yahoo.
The NFL will now entertain bids from other sources, and may strike deals with more than one partner to produce its site, sources close to the NFL report. One sticking point with ESPN.com is its desire to include access to NFL clips for the ESPN site - an issue the NFL wants to negotiate separately.
ESPN.com, part of the Disney Internet group, has been producing the NFL site for the past three years.
- Richard Tedesco