NFL Looks for Snowball Effect

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With the football season upon us, the National Football League has unveiled its latest initiative to draw teen fans to the sport. This week the league announced it has partnered with Snowball.com to launch the Web presence for its teen-oriented "Under the Helmet" television show at Nfluth.com.


The Fox television show, which is viewed by more than 1 million households weekly, combines player interviews with popular music and MTV-style game footage. The site's features will likely contain similar content.


"It's a combination of all their passions -- football, entertainment and [the] Internet -- with the power the NFL can bring," said Brian McCarthy, spokesman at the NFL, New York.


Snowball.com was selected to create, maintain and help promote the site because of its extensive experience in the teen and young adult space. Snowball.com sites receive 15 million to 16 million unique visitors per month from what it calls Generation i -- the Internet generation. This is a tech-savvy group ranging from 13 to 30 years old. Its network of sites includes ChickClick.com, IGN.com and PowerStudents.com.


Snowball.com will "be using the real estate on all of our different properties to drive traffic to Nfluth.com," said Mark Jung, CEO of Snowball.com, San Francisco. Additionally, it will leverage its e-mail database of users to create "co-branded, call-to-action" messaging.


The NFL, which was one of the first leagues to launch a Web site, also will leverage its assets to promote the new site. The biggest vehicle will be feature segments during Saturday morning television to drive traffic to the site. It also will place house ads in its "NFL Insider" publication, which has a circulation of more than 1 million subscribers, and will include links from NFL.com.


Cross promotions, including sweepstakes and other contests, among other NFL properties are likely. One effort on the drawing board is an Under the Helmet concert series that may hit the road next summer. Other marketing efforts will depend on "how the initial launch goes," McCarthy said. The site was slated to go live last week.


Unique features at the Under the Helmet site include player profiles focusing on their lives off the football field. "There will be player profiles that have the players talk about what they enjoy, like Eddie George talking about his favorite artists and movies," McCarthy said.


Matchups of the Week previews two top players, such as a wide receiver and a cornerback, who will be going head-to-head in the coming week, as well as interactive elements such as Hits of the Week. Here, users can vote from among a video selection of the previous week's best hits.


The two-year, multimillion-dollar deal will include a revenue payment to Snowball.com, and a split of advertising revenue between Snowball.com and the NFL. The Snowball.com sales team will spearhead ad sales.
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