STYLECLICK RETOOLS NASCAR.COM E-SHOP

Byline: Katherine Bowers

LOS ANGELES — When the green flag flashes at the Daytona 500 next month, USA Networks Inc. and Turner Sports Inc. hope to be zooming toward e-commerce profits.
Barry Diller’s USA Networks has just inked a 10-year partnership with Turner Sports Inc. to build and support a new e-shop on NASCAR.com, which is positioned to cater to the 100,000 or so screaming fans at the famed raceway and millions more watching at home, among others.
Turner acquired NASCAR.com from the stock car racing association last October, and subsequently released ESPN from its e-commerce service- provider agreement with the group. Styleclick, an e-commerce services provider that’s a majority owned subsidiary of New York-based USA Networks, has been building a new NASCAR online store for the past two weeks, in order to hit a Jan. 29 relaunch date, said a Turner Sports spokesman. That would give the site a few weeks to work the kinks out of its engine before the Daytona 500.
Expect the new site to be heavier in editorial content — and more aggressive in promoting itself than the earlier version, said Lisa Brown, president and chief executive officer of USA Network’s electronic commerce solutions unit. Brown noted USA Networks already has a database of between five million and six million sports enthusiasts, culled mostly from the records of Ticketmaster, another USA Networks property. Those enthusiasts will receive e-mailed updates on the progress of various Daytona 500 drivers, embedded with links to items for sale at the NASCAR e-shop.
In addition, Turner Sports, which broadcasts NASCAR races on TV, will pop up promotional spots for the e-store during its coverage. Turner has also inked a cross-promotional pact with America Online, which will be hosting a version of the NASCAR.com Net destination.
According to Web ratings agency Media Metrix, roughly 1.5 million people visited NASCAR.com in November.
Initially, the retooled site will offer a typical range of souvenir merchandise: logoed apparel such as jackets, jerseys, T-shirts, and hats as well as die-cast cars, banners and the like. But Brown said USA plans to expand to include additional women’s clothing categories and home goods.
Brown further noted this deal may be the first in a series of similar arrangements. For example, Turner holds the exclusive cable TV rights to Wimbledon and the PGA championship, among other sporting events.

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