FOX SPORTS EYES MOVES INTO APPAREL, MAGAZINES RETAILERS TO BE CONTACTED IN PUSH TO COMPETE 'WITH LIKES OF NIKE'

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Fox Sports soon will approach major retailers about setting up branded areas in stores to sell sports merchandise and apparel.

Separately, Fox is considering a quarterly magazine that would cover the sports for which it has broadcast rights, a lineup that currently includes pro baseball, football and hockey.

PUSHING 'INDEPENDENT ENTITY'

Both concepts are part of an overall strategy to "cement in the consumer's mind Fox Sports as an independent entity, and our association with the great teams and leagues we broadcast," said a Fox Broadcasting insider.

"It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say we want to compete with merchandise and apparel from the likes of Nike," he added.

Fox Sports will pitch the store-within-a-store concept to such retailers as J.C. Penney Co. NBC Sports currently has a similar deal with Sears, Roebuck & Co.

"We've worked hard-in our on-air promotions and look, most notably-to develop Fox Sports with a certain 'out there' look and feel, and we want to translate that to merchandise and apparel," said another Fox insider.

Fox hopes consumers, particularly young men, will find it cool to wear shirts and jackets with the Fox Sports logo. The plan is for merchandise to focus on that logo, but also on the leagues and teams covered by the network.

The company hopes to be in stores in time for the National Football League season opener.

To launch the line, Fox hopes to add a promotional partner that would advertise on Fox Sports programming. Merchandise would include jackets, shirts, caps, mugs, trading cards and posters.

PLANNING TOY CARS

For youngsters, Fox Sports is looking to hook up with a toy manufacturer to create "Rough Racer" cars that will carry the insignia of various NFL teams. Fox airs animated "Rough Racer" segments during its NFL broadcasts.

"For years, ABC Sports was very meaningful for consumers," said one of the Fox insiders. "They developed 'Wide World of Sports,' and it was different and set a standard. We think we're the next level, and we want to push our identity."

The magazine concept would be less ambitous and more promotional than cable network ESPN's plan to launch a Sports Illustrated competitor next year.

Petersen Publishing Co. talked last year with ESPN about partnering with its Sport, but no deal was reached. It couldn't be determined whether Fox Sports has

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