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365.com has staked its claim in the ground for its sports web site properties. The telco/dotcom/content-supplier hybrid says it will survive the shakeout in the UK sports site market.

In a statement accompanying its full year results, 365 claimed it has "reached the critical mass necessary to attract the advertising and commercial deals required to move our internet operation towards profitability. In particular, our four core sports services - Football, Cricket, Rugby and Formula 1 - have all consolidated their market leading positions during the year".

Over the next year the company expects "more of our competitors to leave the market or scale down their
operations, and for 365 to become one of the few remaining creators and owners of an increasingly scarce commodity - quality digital content".

365.com does not strip out its Internet revenues - in stead it separates activities between consumer and business divisions. Somewhere in the the consumer division's £29m - is the turnover from the sports sites. We guess it's a pretty small proportion.

Clearly, the safe opportunity for the company (£26m in the bank, £50m+turnover but still loss-making). And clearly the big opportunity is in its
Eckoh voice portal, which launches next month. Also there's steady money to be had producing sports content for other companies. But running your own sports site? In 365.com's case it is difficult to see why.

This month, Forrester Research predicted that just three multi-sport players would be left in the overcrowded UK sports site market. The dominators, it reckons, will be The BBC (no-brainer, that one), Sky (not sure why - it's big on sport, small on the Internet), and Sports.com.

We can see some consolidation already - at the start of the month Sports.com bought Megastar.co.uk, a tits and sports site owned by United Business Media, for an undisclosed sum - but we think it was £50k. This establishing a new low for valuation of readers: Megastar has more than 500,000 lads clocking onto the site each month.

But it makes more sense for sports site operators to see their rivals collapse. Hence the lack of interest in taking over Sportal, the very high-profile dotcom, which madly rejected a £270 million offer for the company last year from Canal Plus, the French TV combine. Today, Sportal is on the brink - relying on an injection of cash from its directors to see it through the month. ®

Related stories

Sports sites step nearer the gallows
Sportal boots more staff into touch
Sports.com buys Megastar
365 losses surge in Q3
365 to IPO - but not exactly a pure Net company, is it?

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