YAHOO! KICKS OFF FANTASY FOOTBALL

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Yahoo! Sports launches Full Fantasy Football today. Produced by Sandbox Entertainment, the free ad-supported site (fantasy.yahoo.com/nfl/start) allows users to assemble and manage a team of players from their favorite National Football League team. Users can participate in unlimited transactions throughout the season. Yahoo! is negotiating with advertisers for sponsorships.

Other sports sites charge up to $300 per league for fantasy sports. USA Today's fantasy sports site goes live Aug. 3 and is produced by Millennium Sports' online division Owner's Box. ESPN SportsZone and CBS SportsLine charge for most of their fantasy sports leagues.

"Yahoo! doesn't charge for its content," said Tonya Antonucci, Yahoo! sports producer. "That's what's driving this offering."

Lycos adding interactive comic strip

Lycos today adds interactive science fiction comic strip WhirlGirl to its lineup. Created by New York-based Visionary Media, the Web comic strip that started in 1997 is the tale of young heroine Kia Cross. Lycos will rerun WhirlGirl episodes this summer in its Entertainment Web Guide and in its Space/Sci-Fi Guide (whirlgirl.lycos.com), with new episodes launching in the fall.

NY Finance.com offers mortgage service

NY Realty.com and IPI Financial Services launched NY Finance.com (www.nyfinance.com), a Web site to provide New York home buyers with mortgage rates and information. The site offers a guide to real estate, rates, a pre-qualification service, credit advice, payment schedule information and more.

Separately, NewHomes-Direct signed a content distribution deal with Classifieds2000.

CMP launches TechWeb Today

CMPnet and CNBC/Dow Jones Business Video today launch TechWeb Today (www.techweb.com/wire/video), a daily, 15-minute Internet broadcast that uses Real Networks' new G2 player to deliver technology news. TechWeb Today will integrate content from CMP's print and media brands, including Windows Magazine, InformationWeek and TechInvester, into the Web video broadcasts.

In other news

Microsoft Corp. chose LinkExchange's Merchant Planet e-commerce service to help small-business owners add transaction capabilities to their Web sites. LinkExchange (www.linkexchange.com) will offer Microsoft Site Builder Network members the Merchant Planet service at discounted rates. . . . Ziff-Davis invested $5 million in online discussion site Deja News (www.dejanews.com) last week. It was part of a $11.5 million round of private financing. . . . Relevant Knowledge will announce today it will measure ad networks with a service called Ad Network Report. The first report, due out today, measures ad networks for reach and audience composition. It also provides quantitative data about the reach of affinity groups.

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