Having merged their online operations, Times Mirror, Los Angeles, and InterZine Productions will launch a network of more than 20 sports sites by year-end to compete against ESPN SportsZone and CBS SportsLine. The new company, Times Mirror Interzines, New York, already has begun selling to advertisers such as BMW and Datek Online in network-wide buys. Times Mirror bought Norwalk, Conn.-based InterZine Productions for $3 million in February.
By the fourth quarter, Web users will find the network at www.tminterzines.com; it will offer advertisers one buying opportunity across all the sites. For example, BMW has purchased ads on the yachting, motor sports and golf sites; Datek bought on sites for golf, motor sports and Popular Science. Advertisers on The Sporting News online (www.sportingnews.com) include Ford, which is sponsoring Best Sports Cities, and Honda, on the site's coverage of the Little League World Series. Visa will be the title sponsor for National Football League coverage on TSN, breaking this month.
Michael Dubester, who was president of Times Mirror's online version of The Sporting News before the acquisition, is now president of Times Mirror Interzines. "We used this year to synthesize the businesses and create an infrastructure," said Dubester, who oversees business operations. "Only now are we starting to say, 'Here's how it'll work.'" By combining the sites together into a network, Dubester believes the properties will benefit from increased traffic and more ad revenue.
Following the merger, Times Mirror and InterZine had to consolidate several overlapping sports sites. For example, iGolf and Golf Online are being merged into one site. It will be accessible through both www.igolf.com and www.golfonline.com. InterZine's iRace became the motor sports section at TSN. It will remain as is but will link to TSN. Next month, various mountain sports sites will re-launch for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and youth culture sports such as skateboarding. Each will have its own address and be incorporated into the network.
Meanwhile, Times Mirror's magazine sites Popular Science, Outdoor Life, Yachting and others will get more funding to finance an expansion of the sites and development of more unique content. "The InterZine acquisition gave us a reason to make these more robust," Dubester said. They too will be added to the network.