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CitySearch prepares for war

The city directory adds Ticketmaster services as it responds to cutthroat competition in a fast-growing market.

City directories keep adding more features to their services, hoping to gain an edge in a cutthroat and fast-growing market.

Today, CitySearch is announcing that it will provide online ticketing and live event information through an agreement with Ticketmaster. It marks the first time that Ticketmaster will sell its tickets online through a site other than its own.

Such features are becoming coveted by city directories as they seek to differentiate themselves in the burgeoning field. CitySearch, Yahoo, Microsoft's Sidewalk, USWest Media Group's DiveIn, Pacific Bell's @Hand, and Digital City are all on an expansion binge. They are competing with online newspapers for the multibillion-dollar local ad market.

The Web sites are free and feature news, entertainment, sports, bulletin boards, chat, yellow-page directories, favorite restaurants, and maps, among other features. Digital City, one of the largest city directories that is operated through America Online, is moving to the Web.

Starting in June, Ticketmaster will be included in CitySearch services in New York, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Portland, Oregon; and Nashville, Tennessee. It later will be expanded to other markets.

From the same Web site, users will be able to find a local event and buy an admission ticket online. Payments will be made using a credit card over the Internet or via a Ticketmaster service dubbed TMO Plus that lets users store credit card information online and receive a PIN number for a $10 annual fee.

Analysts say this type of "one-stop" shopping online is an attractive feature but add that the same service is just a click away on another site.