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Viacom pitches complete game for SportsLine.com

Media giant plans to snap up its longtime sports news partner for a higher price than was originally offered.

Apparently unable to sit idly by as Major League Baseball's teams swapped players all weekend, Viacom announced a deal of its own Monday to buy longtime partner SportsLine.com for roughly $46.4 million.

The news from Viacom comes one month after the company announced an initial bid for SportsLine, an online sports news company. On Monday, the media giant said it would pay $1.75 per share for the roughly 26.6 million shares in SportsLine that it does not already control.

SportsLine is known to have been actively seeking a buyer since May, as it has been losing money and owed payments to Viacom, which runs a co-branded site with SportsLine.

In early July, SportsLine reported that Viacom had offered $1.50 for each SportsLine share not owned by Viacom. At the same time, though, Viacom also indicated that it would adjust its offer based on SportsLine's closing stock prices in the week after it announced its intention to buy the company. The merger is expected to be complete by the end of 2004.

Viacom has been SportsLine's largest customer for a number of years. The sports content company publishes the CBS SportsLine site for the media conglomerate's television subsidiary, CBS. In addition to providing sports news and related content, SportsLine has also maintained CBS' fantasy sports Web sites, an increasingly popular and potentially lucrative online media niche. Last year, SportsLine signed a deal with Google to use the search giant's technology and sponsored advertising links on its Web sites.

"This is a great opportunity for Viacom and CBS," Leslie Moonves, co-president at Viacom, said in a statement. "We've enjoyed a collaborative relationship with SportsLine dating back to 1997, and this acquisition complements our strategy of expanding Viacom's presence in what has become the fastest-growing advertising sector."