updated 5/6/2004 8:51:15 PM ET 2004-05-07T00:51:15

Microsoft Corp.'s MSN online division is teaming with Fox Sports to create a cobranded sports Web site and is ending a similar partnership with ESPN.

The multiyear agreement with Fox Sports, announced Thursday, will put Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft in charge of selling advertising for the new sports Web site. But initially at least, the new site won't be significantly different from Fox Sports' current Web site, said Lisa Gurry, director of MSN.

The two companies hope to eventually make broad changes, including making the site more personalized for individual users, she said. For example, a user who is a New York Yankees fan would automatically be offered deals on Yankees tickets, besides being able to choose Yankees video snippets or alerts for the latest Yankees game scores.

The new site is scheduled to go live July 1. Gurry said Microsoft will end the deal with ESPN, which was signed in September 2001, around that date. (MSNBC content is distributed by MSN. MSNBC itself is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

Gurry declined to give financial details of the agreement with Fox Sports.

Fox Sports is a unit of News Corp., the media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch. Microsoft does not appear to also be pursuing similar deals with other News Corp. news and entertainment properties.

This isn't the first move Microsoft has made to entice sports fans and broaden its online reach.

In March, MSN struck a deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the online arm of the MLB, to promote MLB.com products and offer exclusive free baseball content on MSN.com. It also will give users of its paid MSN services access to premium content such as live online baseball games.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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