Sportsline.com to Explore “Strategic Alternatives”

SportsLine.com, publisher of CBS SportsLine.com, has hired investment bank Perseus Group to explore “strategic alternatives to enhance value to its shareholders” — code words that usually indicate a company is for sale.

Despite a general rebound in online advertising, SportsLine still hasn’t been able to turn a profit. For the first quarter of 2004, the company reported a net loss of $8.4 million, or $0.20 per share. During that period, the company derived 94 percent of its revenue from online advertising, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company also said it would evaluate its relationship with Viacom, which owns 40 percent of SportsLine.com through its CBS division. CBS is SportsLine’s most significant partner, giving it promotion and advertising on TV in exchange for regular payments in stock.

The two companies also sell joint advertising packages, through an agreement now set to last through 2006. Revenue generated through the joint sales efforts represented around 19 percent of SportsLine’s total ad revenues in the first quarter.

In addition to publishing CBS SportsLine.com, the company manages official Web sites for the NFL, NCAA and PGA Tour. It also operates a fantasy-league subscription business. The company recently provided subscription access to the 2004 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship for $9.95. SportsLine sold commercials exclusively for online viewing to Cingular, Coca-Cola, Pontiac, McDonald’s, and Nintendo of America.

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