NFL Calls A Huddle For Team Web Sites 03/30/00

NFL Calls A Huddle For Team Web Sites 03/30/00 – Company Operations

Steven Bonisteel

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, U.S.A., 2000 MAR 30 (NB) — The National Football League has adopted a new set of rules aimed not at the game, but at increasing the value of the Web sites operated by member teams and of the league’s home base on the Internet, NFL.com.

At the league’s annual meeting Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Fla., the clubs approved a plan that overlays a network strategy on the Web sites operated independently by individual teams. It also maps out a host of rules governing what each site can and can’t do with key NFL content.

While clubs will retain independent editorial control of their own online productions, the NFL Internet Network created by the plan will enforce uniform standards for activities ranging from audience measurement and online advertising to Web hosting and e-commerce agreements. In addition, the new network will control how club sites can use NFL-licensed content such as audio broadcasts, photos, and video.

“We believe this is the best possible model right now for a sports league Internet structure,” said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. “It emphasizes strong club sites and links everyone together into a unified national network.”

In addition to having their own “home” pages on the NFL.com site, almost all of the 31 teams in the league currently have Web sites in their home towns – as does the yet-to-be named expansion team destined for Houston, Tex., in 2002.

The NFL said that, in January of this year, its NFL.com mothership site received more than 2.9 million visitors, while its companion destination, Superbowl.com, received more than 1.2 million.

Under the new regime, the league expects that the network approach will provide an opportunity to aggregate the traffic count at all sites in an effort to increase the value of the NFL Web properties to potential advertisers.

To boost the traffic at individual club sites, NFL.com will remove the team pages it currently hosts, making each team’s Web presence a true home base for franchise information.

For the year 2000, the clubs agreed to abide by NFL Internet Network rules and guidelines which included:

– Clubs must file with league headquarters all agreements they have wiwith third parties for Web hosting and e-commerce services. In addition, any agreements they have with Web hosting companies and developers must have life spans of no more than two years.

– The league will suggest approved Web site developers to the clclubs, tough clubs will be able to select their own developers as long as the firms will be able to fulfill the requirements of the network’s new policies.

– The league will mete out game video for club sites, while teams wiwill be free to serve up their own off-field programming, such as local-TV coaches’ shows. However, clubs will not be able to sell local advertising in conjunction with the game-video content.

– Clubs will be allowed to link from their sites to local media ououtlets and sponsors, but they will not be able to link to sports content aggregators or major portals without NFL Network approval.

– Clubs will not be allowed to participate in third-party networks fofor banner advertising or e-commerce opportunities.

– A number of applications, such as real-time statistics, league scschedules, action-simulation games and fantasy-league games, as well as a yet-to-be-unveiled auction service, will be hosted only on the primary league sites. Local clubs will be able to host localized games, such as a team-specific trivia contest.

– The league will make any Internet radio broadcasts of NFL games avavailable at NFL.com, while club sites may host their team broadcasts.

– Clubs will sell both local and network advertising for their sisites, keeping 100 percent of revenues. Because of existing licensing agreements for NFL videos, the league will sell advertising appearing in conjunction with such content and split that national revenue with the clubs.

– Clubs whose Web sites don’t comply with the network rules could bebe fined by the league.

(20000330/Press contact: Brian McCarthy, 212-450-2069 /WIRES ONLINE, BUSINESS/)

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