PLACE-BASED SPORTS NETWORK SKIS ONTO THE 'NET

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Resort Sports Network is about to find out what happens when a place-based network moves to a medium that's not in one place.

On March 6, the network, which distributes ad-supported TV programming to 50 resorts nationwide, will make its debut on the Internet's World Wide Web.

"For us, the Internet really is the ultimate in place-based media," said Rory Strunk, president of Resort Sports Network, Portland, Maine. "Place-based media really is about reaching niche-based audiences, and the Internet for a lot of people is based on niche interests."

The most interesting aspect of Resort Sports Network's Web site (http://www.resortsportsnet.com/biz/rsn) is the inclusion of images from "weathercams," cameras stationed on mountain slopes that show current ski conditions. Images will be updated three times a day.

The site opens with feeds from Colorado's Copper Mountain and Heavenly Mountain in Lake Tahoe; Resort Sports Network plans to install weathercams on other mountains and eventually at summer resorts.

"It's a great idea," said Erica Gruen, exec VP-associate media director of strategic media resources at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York. "Keep in mind that virtually every mainstream medium, including broadcast and cable networks, newspapers, magazines and even radio networks all have a presence either on commercial online services or on the Web at this time. So why not out-of-home?"

The network has not yet established a pricing plan for Web sponsors but hopes advertisers from its TV network will migrate to the Internet. That list includes General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Blazer, Chrysler Corp.'s Jeep, Heublein's Jose Cuervo, Saab Cars USA, Warner-Lambert Co. and Visa USA.

Among the programming elements Resort Sports Network wants to develop exclusively for its Web site is a segment called Chateau Relaxo that would enable online users to upload information to the site.

"It's going to be an area to discuss the lifestyle of recreation," Mr. Strunk said. "We are going to have an e-mail address where people can leave tips on great resorts, or cool places to eat while staying in resort areas."

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