SportsLine Europe Invades France

Despite being overshadowed by Tuesday’s announcement that Viacom will buy CBS for $37 billion in stock, SportsLine Europe — the subsidiary of an Internet sports content provider with a strong CBS connection — announced the launch of its first country-specific site, France.sports.com.

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based parent company of the new European operation said that the French site is the first in a planned rollout of country-specific sites for the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The company launched Football.sports.com in August for its first European-dedicated site. It intends to launch similar sites dedicated to rugby, cricket and Formula One auto racing — obscure sports in the United States, but wildly popular in many parts of Europe.

“We are very excited at the further expansion of SportsLine Europe into France,” said Michael Levy, CEO of SportsLine USA and chairman of SportsLine Europe. “This is another step in the establishment of SportsLine as the premier global Internet sports media company.”

Building a European Playing Field

SportsLine Europe is a majority-owned subsidiary of SportsLine USA (Nasdaq: SPLN), which produces the official Web sites for Major League Baseball, NFL Europe and the PGA Golf Tour. The parent company holds an 80 percent stake, and a consortium made up of Intel, Media One Ventures and Reuters holds the remaining 20 percent.

As part of that deal, SportsLine Europe bought Sportsweb.com from Reuters and folded it into its site. In June, the company bought the sports information and data division of the UK-based Infosis Group for 1.3 million pound sterling.

The moves by SportsLine Europe come as European content sites start developing local sports content for their own markets. Recognizing this trend, SportsLine Europe signed an exclusive three-year promotional and consulting deal in July with IMG, said to be the largest independent producer of sports programming in the world.

IMG received an undisclosed minority stake in SportsLine Europe in the deal, which calls for it to identify strategic alliances in the European sports marketplace that could be of benefit for SportsLine USA.

SportsLine USA’s Internet service was renamed CBS SportsLine in March 1997 as part of an exclusive promotional and content agreement with CBS Sports.

The company reported second quarter losses of $12.4 million on revenues of $13 million. Traffic to its Web sites averages some 8.5 million page views a day, up 58 percent from the corresponding period in 1998.

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