eBay pact: It’s a go

Site becomes exclusive auctioneer for Mouse

It’s turning into a small world for eBay after all.

Disney’s Go Network said Tuesday that it has inked a four-year agreement with eBay making it the exclusive online auction site for the Mouse House’s Web properties.

Under terms of the agreement, eBay and the Go Network will create two co-branded auction sites — one to focus on person to person transactions, the other on merchant to consumer sales, featuring goods from Disney’s properties and ESPN, among others.

Disney will market the two sites through its Go Network, a portfolio of Web sites that includes Disney.com, ABC.com and ESPN.com, as well as on its off-line properties, including the ABC network, Disney channel and its theme parks.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Several of the major portals, including Yahoo! and Excite, already offer their own auction sites, but none have grown as popular as eBay, which boasts over 10 million registered users.

Portal Go.com launched its own auction site four months ago through a relationship with uBid. Company officials said it would continue through the duration of the eBay deal. Go.com’s auctions will now be folded into the new sites, with http://www.ebay.go.com expected to bow in the second quarter.

The company auctions will kick off with Disney.com’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth, followed by auctions commemorating Disneyland’s 45th anniversary.

“This agreement is critical to Go.com’s new strategy of focusing our portal on entertainment, recreation and leisure activities,” said Steve Bornstein, chairman of Go.com. “The combination of exclusive merchandise from across the Disney company, terrific distribution from the Go.com family of Web sites, Disney’s unparalleled promotional capabilities, and eBay’s vibrant online community should create a world-class online trading environment.”

Deal resembles agreement that eBay inked last year with America Online, under which co-branded auction sites were created for AOL.com, CompuServe and the Internet service provider’s other online brands.

As part of that deal, eBay is paying AOL $75 million but is not sharing any transaction fees from the co-branded auctions.

Tuesday’s deal marks the first time that eBay will launch separate merchant to consumer auction sites. It previously folded its auctions hosted by Kruse Intl. and Butterfield & Butterfield subsids into its general site.

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