SBJ/April 3 - 9, 2006/This Weeks News

Yahoo! deal to extend reach of Rivals.com

Rivals.com has signed a two-year content distribution deal with Yahoo! Sports, the company’s second major deal in less than four months designed to expand the online reach of the Brentwood, Tenn.-based outfit.

After signing a distribution pact with AOL in December, Rivals.com now plans to provide about 70 content items per day to the Yahoo! Sports portal, focusing on its core strength of in-depth college sports and recruiting news. Content will consist of both text and video and be available for free.

AOL receives about 100 items per week from Rivals.com.

Before its deal with AOL, Rivals.com subsisted on a largely underground, dedicated following and based much of its financial model on subscription revenue. With the two distribution deals, Rivals.com is targeting increased advertising revenue in hopes of creating a true dual stream and intends to grow from 1.9 million unique visitors per month to more than 4 million by the end of the year, perhaps within six months.

“This without question pushes us closer to the mainstream and opens up a whole new audience for us,” said Rivals.com CEO Shannon Terry.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but industry sources said the basic structure involves Rivals.com paying Yahoo! for access to the distribution channel and recouping those fees from increased advertising and subscriptions.

Yahoo! Sports ranked second to ESPN.com among sports sites for monthly unique visitors in February, with 13.9 million, according to figures from Nielsen/Net Ratings.

“We’re looking for best-of-breed content in everything we do, and we relish getting access to Rivals content,” said David Katz, Yahoo! head of sports and entertainment. “The next step we need to take is doing a better job promoting all our assets, including this one, and making people aware of what we have, so you’ll see a major ramp-up in the marketing of our content.”

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