January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

SportsLine Benches MVP

SportsLine.com Inc., an Internet sports media company and publisher of CBS SportsLine.com, has terminated its portal agreement with MVP.com, an online sporting goods and apparel retailer, because MVP has not made its overdue payments for the right to market through SportsLine. MVP.com has operated the e-commerce site for SportsLine.com since MVP's launch in January. SportsLine, however, does not want to be without a way for visitors to buy sporting merchandise and so will allow MVP.com to sell through the SportsLine site until SportsLine finds a new sporting retailer. MVP.com remains overdue with its scheduled payment for the fourth quarter of 2000, SportsLine says. In mid-October, SportsLine recorded a one-time non-cash charge of $114.3 million to write down the value of online investments; MVP accounted for the bulk of that write down. As part of the agreement, MVP is to pay SportsLine each quarter for the right to sell merchandise on the SportsLine web site. MVP paid $13 million through the first three quarters of 2000. MVP would also not say how much it owes SportsLine or if non-payment is a result of a refusal to pay during negotiations or an inability to pay. MVP paid for promotional services and the ability to sell on SportsLine with $100 million in MVP stock, SportsLine CFO Kenneth Sanders said. Negotiations for a restructuring of the 10-year agreement were unsuccessful. MVP said in October that it was negotiating for additional funding, and that looking for money at that time was part of its original business plan. That funding, says an MVP spokeswoman, is going well and should be completed by the end of the year. Sportsline said it is confident it will reach agreement with a new e-retailer soon. Until then, SportsLine.com users can purchase merchandise on the site through MVP.com. MVP will not say what percentage of its sales come from SportsLine, but that it does not represent a majority of its sales. MVP says it has no idea when the issues will be resolved with SportsLine, but that those negotiations are not tied to its fund-raising efforts and that the company has recorded strong sales this fall and is not in danger of going under.

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