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As we suggested a while back would be the case, the National Football League has decided it doesn’t need any help to run its online operations and will go it alone. The contract with CBS Sportsline was extended through this season but the NFL is picking up the ball — which cost CBS Sportsline $120 million for five years — and taking it home. The league already has the NFL Network and a history of preferring control so this makes total sense from their perspective. The relaunch is planned for spring.
Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s vice president of media strategy: “In a rapidly changing digital landscape, bringing NFL.com in-house provides us greater control of our valuable content and enables us to strategically build the site as a media asset. Fans can look forward to an even more entertaining, interactive and informative site built upon the expertise of the NFL and its other in-house media outlets such as NFL Network and NFL Films.” Release.
Update: Miami Herald: CBS SportsLine is downplaying the impact but was one of the companies bidding for the business, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.
CBS SporstLine spokesman Alex Riethmiller: “‘It’s not in CBS SportsLine’s interest to be building up someone else’s brand for the long term, which is basically what we were doing for NFL.com. We’re at a point now where we’re looking to invest resources in our own brand.”
McCarthy: “It was a great run with SportsLine, but we felt it was time to look long term.” The league isn’t planning to stream live games in the U.S.; it already has a deal with Yahoo overseas. But McCarthy idoesn’t rule it out. Odds are that would have to wait for the next U.S. TV deals and the current packages go through 2011.
— NFL.com had 16.4 million uniques in September, according to comScoreMediaMetrix, making it the fourth most-popular sports site. SportsLine had about 7 million.