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Tripod, SportsLine play ball

The Net community and sports content firm beef up their offerings, underscoring the power of sports content and products online.

Net community Tripod and Net sports content firm SportsLine USA struck deals to beef up their offerings today, underscoring the ongoing power of sports content and products as valuable Net commodities.

Tripod inked a deal with the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and interactive marketing firm Think New Ideas to integrate the MLBPA site, Bigleaguers.com, into the Net community's Sports Zone area.

SportsLine USA, publisher of CBS SportsLine, said today that it has acquired the International Golf Outlet (IGO), a Net retailer that sells golf equipment and accessories, in a cash and stock deal worth $2 million.

Sports are popular on the Net, with content sites, fantasy leagues, and community outlets such as chats and bulletin boards heavily populated and widely used. Competition is fierce, however: Last month, when the NFL's contract with ESPN SportsZone was up, a bidding war ensued among Net sports sites. In the end, the NFL decided to renew the agreement with SportsZone.

Under the terms of the Tripod baseball agreement, Tripod will facilitate the creation and upkeep of online baseball communities and will market a cobranded Bigleaguers.com site to its members. Tripod parent Lycos also will promote the site. The cobranded site--to be created by Think New Ideas, which built the original Bigleaguers.com site--will be managed by Think New Ideas but served within the Tripod frame. Financial terms were not disclosed.

As for the SportsLine deal, IGO will be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of SportsLine USA. The company's cofounder, David Schofman, will become SportsLine USA's director of golf merchandise, the firms said.

"The acquisition of IGO complements our acquisition of GolfWeb earlier this year and demonstrates SportsLine USA's commitment to growing our e-commerce business," Michael Levy, SportsLine USA's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.