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Excite inks Ticketmaster deal

Excite announces that it will provide direct online ticketing and live event information through an agreement with Ticketmaster.

Excite (XCIT) announced today that it will provide direct online ticketing and live event information through an agreement with Ticketmaster (TKTM), the search engine's second big step this month to bolster its content offerings.

The deal, effective immediately, is the latest example of the fight among Internet companies to differentiate themselves and potentially turn a profit.

With the pact, Excite becomes the first navigation firm to offer Ticketmaster event listings online and direct access to ticketing. Purchases can be made with a credit card.

Ticketmaster is a leader in online ticketing. Online ticket sales have grown at an average rate of nearly 25 percent in recent months, reaching $2.5 million in May, according to the company. Ticket booths on the Net are expected to rake in $10 billion by the year 2001, according to a recent report by Forrester Research.

"This alliance is a natural because of the synergy between Ticketmaster's content and database expertise and Excite's distribution and programming power," said Excite chief executive George Bell.

Events and ticket information will be integrated within Excite's "channels," such as travel and sports. Web pages will be cobranded.

Earlier this month, Excite announced an agreement with Intuit that called for the two to create a souped-up financial channel. In addition, Intuit paid $40 million for a 19 percent stake in Excite.

Ticketmaster hopes to expose "thousands of new users" to its online ticketing service with the agreement, according to Alan Citron, president of Ticketmaster.

The company recently announced a similar distribution deal with CitySearch for some of its city directories.

Today's deal also illustrates how navigation companies such as Excite and city directories such as CitySearch are becoming more like each other, aggregating what they consider to be the best content on the Net as quickly as possible. They hope to lure Web advertisers and make money from e-commerce.

Competition is intense, though, and most of the companies in these new markets still are unprofitable.

Some legal scrapes are cropping up as well. In April, Ticketmaster filed a lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging that the software giant's Sidewalk city directory illegally used the Ticketmaster name and trademarks by providing links to its sites. Microsoft denies the charges. The lawsuit is pending.