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Internet

NFL drafts media stars for Web operations

The National Football League is expected to announce agreements with CBS SportsLine.com, Viacom and AOL Time Warner to help boost the league's online efforts.

The National Football League on Monday is expected to announce agreements with CBS SportsLine.com, Viacom and AOL Time Warner to help boost the league's Web efforts.

The parties will pay the NFL a total of $110 million over five years in cross-promotion and production fees, sources close to the deal said. The pact could be worth about $325 million to $350 million during the period when factoring in other services and cross-promotion, one source added. The NFL also will have the right to pull out of the agreement after two years.

SportsLine will take over all content and production for NFL.com, replacing Walt Disney's ESPN Internet division. NFL.com on Monday already had a "Powered by SportsLine" logo in the upper right-hand corner of its home page and has links to Viacom's CBS Sports Web site, AOL.com and SportsLine throughout its site.

The agreement marks another instance of major sports leagues charting their own courses on the Internet. The leagues traditionally bank heavily on selling broadcast rights to the major television networks for hundreds of millions, sometimes billions, of dollars.

But selling rights to Internet distributors remains uncharted territory for many. Some leagues, such as Major League Baseball, have begun charging people to listen to their broadcasts over the Internet. Meanwhile, the leagues have been careful about releasing video because of concerns about upsetting their broadcast partners.

The deal could be announced as early as Monday, sources said.

The NFL, CBS and SportsLine declined to comment. AOL did not immediately return requests for comment.