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NFL, Snowball team for teen sports Web site

The National Football League is partnering with the online youth network to kick off a Web site based on the NFL's teen-driven TV show, "Under the Helmet."

    The National Football League is partnering with online youth network Snowball.com to kick off a Web site today based on the NFL's teen-driven TV show, "Under the Helmet."

    The Web site, "www.nfluth.com," will showcase personality profiles of players and video clips. In addition, text stories will be supported by video supplements, provided by the NFL Films archive and transmitted via high-speed, or "broadband," lines.

    Analysts said the two-year deal marks the NFL's and Snowball's latest efforts to raise their Web profiles and boost traffic, but the competition to offer sports content is already well developed.

    Snowball "is going to face an uphill battle," said Phil Benyola, associate at Raymond James Financial. "For a new site to attract eyeballs, it's tough...Everyone else is late in the game."

    Benyola said that sports sites such as ESPN.com have the brand name associated with providing quality sports content. According to Media Metrix, ESPN's network of Web sites led among sports destinations on the Web, with 5.3 million unique visitors in July, followed by SportsLine.com sites, with 4.5 million visitors.

    In addition, market researcher Cyber Dialogue reports that while 26.3 million people download sports Web sites, only 5.3 million go to league sites.

    "The thing to look for is how (the NFL and Snowball's Web site) is going to differentiate itself with other competitor sites," said Cyber Dialogue analyst Idil Cakim. "The younger audience is going to go to a site that gives them the most interactive content."

    San Francisco-based Snowball will produce the Web site and will spearhead ad sales. Advertising and e-commerce revenues will be split between the companies. The financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

    "This site is not just about statistics," said Snowball CEO Mark Jung. "This site is about creating a whole community whether there is a game or not."