*NFL Launches First Broadband Webcasts Globally

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NEW YORK - The National Football League plans to test its first live Webcast of several games on Sunday in The Netherlands, Austria and Singapore. The live Webcasts will be carried in those markets by local broadband Internet access providers.


The league said it did not know which sponsors would air commercials ads in the Webcasts.


"At this point, it's going to be overseas, so there won't be much sponsor involvement," said Brian McCarthy, league spokesperson. "During game breaks, the viewer will receive the same telecast with the exception of where the commercials would be."


He said the local broadband companies could insert local-language ads into the breaks. Calls to those providers were not returned by press time.


The games will be offered in Holland and Austria to subscribers of Chello Broadband NV, Europe's first broadband Internet service provider. Meanwhile, SingTel Magix, a multimedia service of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., will offers broadband access through high-speed digital subscriber lines (DSL).


The first games to be Webcast in Holland and Austria are the Cleveland Browns versus the Baltimore Colts and Minnesota Vikings versus the Green Bay Packers. In Singapore, fans will receive the Denver Broncos versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota-Green Bay game.


The Webcasts will carry the English-speaking play-by-play announcements provided by Fox and CBS. The games also will be archived for later video-on-demand and near-video-on-demand viewing.


McCarthy said there are no current plans to carry the broadband Webcasts in North America, which is covered by broadcast networks who have paid billions of dollars to carry the games.


"We wouldn't want to hurt our network partners whose support is very significant," he said.


The league issued a statement that said it hoped the Webcasts will urge more viewers to adopt broadband technology in the same way many people adopted direct-to-home satellite services the last few years.
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