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Infoseek does WebTV

Will pay $26 mil to be hybrid's chief searcher

Popular Internet search firm Infoseek Corp. has agreed to pay Microsoft-owned WebTV at least $26 million over two years, in a deal making Infoseek the primary provider of search and directory services for WebTV’s hybrid television/Internet connection.

“Integrating television and the Web, while delivering a compelling experience to the consumer, is the next step in the new media revolution,” said Harry Motro, Infoseek CEO and prexy. “The convergence of the Internet and television media has the potential to empower the consumer like no other media in history.”

Under the agreement, Infoseek will assume management of WebTV’s sales for search and content advertising, and will oversee WebTV’s banner inventory.

Focus on sales

“Through this relationship we can continue to focus our own sales efforts on strategic interactive television relationships, while Infoseek extends this new medium to a greater number of advertisers,” said Joe Poletto, vice president of advertising sales and strategic partnerships.

The Infoseek search software will steer WebTV’s online surfers to WebTV’s pre-arranged aggregations, or collections, of Web sites and other Internet content, but will also continue to give WebTV users search services for the entire World Wide Web.

WebTV currently counts more than 400,000 subscribers, but has recently doubled the number of retail outlets for its system and is readying to launch its first nationwide advertising campaign.

In June, the Walt Disney Co. bought a 43% stake in Infoseek.

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