Under the deal, Excite's Shopping Channel will feature MasterCard as a sponsor and as the preferred method of payment. The companies plan to start offering MasterCard users special deals on the Excite channel by the first quarter of next year.
Portal sites and online services are no strangers to credit card deals. Companies such as Yahoo and America Online offer their own branded credit cards. Yahoo and Visa launched a cobranded shopping guide in September 1997. And Discover recently announced its own online service.
For its part in today's deal, MasterCard will promote the Excite channel in its advertising campaigns, including a mention in the ad scheduled to run during tonight's final Seinfeld episode.
MasterCard would not disclose how much it paid for the prime spot during Seinfeld, but did say that it was lower than the $1.8 million reportedly paid by other advertisers.
Excite also will provide support for Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) technology, a credit card security protocol backed by both MasterCard and Visa, by the end of the year.
Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed. But MasterCard did reveal that it would last between three and five years in the short term, with the intention of extending it after that. No stock will change hands in the deal, according to MasterCard vice president of advertising Larry Flanagan, although MasterCard pays for Excite banner advertising under separate agreements. Flanagan declined to disclose whether the current deal entails a cash payment.
Flanagan praised the deal as a coup for both companies.
"This is a perfect marriage for a new area where people are going to shop and use their credit cards," Flanagan said. "We probably don't even know the upside potential of a deal like this."
Excite has not yet issued its own credit card, but the deal announced today specifies that should the company choose to offer one, it will carry the MasterCard icon.