AOL, NBA, WNBA Kick Off Marketing Alliance

In a deal that builds on Time Warner’s broadcast relationship with the National Basketball Association and the Women’s National Basketball Association, the two organizations have tapped America Online Inc. for a multi-year marketing deal aimed at raising the profile of their Web properties.

Time Warner partners and properties are likely to get more integrated with America Online, as the merger between the two companies comes closer to completion.

The agreement, the financial terms of which were not disclosed, calls for the companies to engage in extensive online and offline cross-promotion.

The deal includes promotion of NBA.com and WNBA.com on several AOL properties, including AOL, CompuServe, AOL.COM, Netscape, Digital City, and ICQ. Users of those AOL brands will also be given easy access to NBA and WNBA content and merchandise, and the content will be integrated into the AOL offerings. One of those efforts at integration will include the development of a fantasy basketball game.

NBA.com and WNBA.com will distribute AOL tools, like AOL Instant Messenger and AOL Search. The two organizations may also use AOL Digital City to explore selling tickets online, and will also do cross-promotions with Digital City.

As part of the deal, AOL will get on-air promotion during NBA on TNT and NBA on TBS game telecasts and on WNBA game telecasts. AOL will also advertise on non-game NBA programming.

Separately, America Online also forged a marketing alliance with comparison shopping company DealTime. The three-year deal, for which financial details were not revealed, calls for DealTime to contribute its technology to the Shop@AOL section.

DealTime will aggregate shopping data from Shop@AOL merchants, and use the database to improve search results on that property, as well as on Digital City, Compuserve and Netscape.

Those search results pages will also contain a link to DealTime, which will allow users to expand their search from Shop@AOL to the whole Web.

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