SBJ/June 4 - 10, 2007/This Weeks News

World Championship Sports Network close to announcing distribution deal with Yahoo!

World Championship Sports Network is expected to announce this week a multiyear distribution agreement with Yahoo! Sports that will expand the reach of the Olympic sports portal.

The deal will see WCSN provide free weekly branded videos to Yahoo! Sports that will be featured on the site’s Olympic and Olympic sports channels, such as swimming and cycling. WCSN also will offer Yahoo! visitors one day of free live footage of track and field, skiing, cycling and volleyball events. Viewing subsequent days of the event will require they become WCSN subscribers.

WCSN offers annual and monthly subscriptions for $49.95 and $4.95, respectively.

WCSN has done other content-sharing deals with Joost, YouTube and Break.com, a men’s online entertainment channel, but this is its first deal with a major Web portal. WCSN content will become available on Yahoo! in mid- to late June.

The agreement comes at an important time for WCSN, which is seeking additional funding. It is hoping to raise $15 million to $25 million. Its investors include Polaris, a venture capital group, and MLB Advanced Media.

The deal follows WCSN’s broadcast of swimmer Michael Phelps toppling five world records at the FINA World Championships in late March. WCSN loaned footage of those events to several outlets, including Yahoo!, after the event, and that opened the door to the content deal with Yahoo! Sports.

WCSN has seen its traffic increase 11 percent in the last three months, according to alexa.com, which measures Web site traffic. Yahoo! is generally among the leaders in sports traffic, with an average of 14.6 million unique visitors per month in the last year, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings.

Yahoo! has struck other content distribution deals with more vertically oriented sites as a means to broaden the offerings of its portal.

 Most notably, the company struck a similar deal with Rivals.com last year, and is now in advanced discussions to buy that company.

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