USN opens with Web site for young blacks

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Urban Sports Network, catering to young African-American sports fans, was launched last week with 16 sponsors on board.

Andre Taylor, president-chief operating officer of USN's parent company, Interactive Sports, said the network will focus on sports, music, fashion and lifestyle content relevant to urban blacks ages 18 to 34. USN now consists only of a Web site, but Mr. Taylor said the company plans to expand into radio and TV.

No timetable has been established for the network's first foray into TV or radio, however.

FILLING A NICHE

"Urban Sports Network will fill a niche in the marketplace that's not covered by the traditional media," Mr. Taylor said.

Sprint Corp., MCI Communications Corp., Lifetime Television, Showtime Networks' Showtime Championship Boxing, Fila USA, Coca-Cola Co.'s Sprite, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and major professional sports leagues are among those signed up with the network.

Many of the site's media advertisers have banners that appear as part of a co-marketing agreement in which ads are placed on the site in exchange for publicity for the networks.

Greg Calkins, head of USN corporate sales, said USN has set content swaps with Vibe and motivational speaker Les Brown, among others, to try to build the site's traffic.

"We're going to use their marketing muscle as well as ours," Mr. Taylor said.

CONTENT TRADED FOR ADS

The National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, the NCAA and Major League Soccer will provide content in exchange for advertising on the Web site.

NHL Director of New Business Development Bryant McBride said USN can play an important role in making hockey accessible to those not otherwise exposed to the sport.

"This is a message that's incredibly important to us," Mr. McBride said.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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