BT/Excite’s deal with a difference

BT’s recent deal with the UK subsidiary of Excite promises to run on very different lines to business deals outside the Internet industry.

The $10m (6.3m) deal, in which BT picked up half of Excite’s UK business last week, appeared simple enough on the surface – a dominant UK consumer brand and a dominant global online brand together at last.

Both companies have much leverage to gain in promoting a range of interactive services for UK Internet users.

However, BT will continue to partner Excite’s arch-rival Yahoo! in promoting its co-branded Yahoo! Click Internet access to UK consumers, and Excite will continue to co-operate with telecoms and Internet company UUnet in cross-promoting each other’s services.

It will also continue to offer “shareholder value” to Excite UK, according to Dafna Ciechnanover, European developer of marketing and business development for Excite.

The future of BT’s Yell site, the company’s first attempt at establishing a UK-focused directory site, is unclear, says Ciechnanover.

But Excite does expect to be featured as top search engine and Web directory resource in BT’s existing basket of Internet access services. Excite, meanwhile, will continue to feature Scoot over its rival Yell as the preferred online directory to UK businesses.

“It’s characteristic of the sector to see players competing in some areas while co-operating in others,” says Ciechnanover.

“Tactical” deals with Excite’s rivals are allowed under the partnership deal, although “strategic” deals are not allowed, she adds.

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