WebMD, Global Sports Create Health/Fitness Web Shop

(Reuters) - WebMD Inc., a provider of healthinformation on the Web, on Thursday said it would collaboratewith online sporting goods retailer Global Sports Inc.

(Reuters) - WebMD Inc., a provider of health information on the Web, on Thursday said it would collaborate with online sporting goods retailer Global Sports Inc. to create an Internet health and fitness store where users can buy items recommended by WebMD experts.

WebMD, which in May agreed to be acquired by online health service Healtheon Corp., said the deal builds on a recent pact WebMD and Healtheon struck with HealthSouth Corp.

to create a full-service sports medicine outlet on the Web.

Global Sports, which runs the online business of several established sports retailers, will manage the Web-based store through its partnership with TheSportsAuthority.com (www.thesportsauthority.com), the online unit of sporting goods retailer Sports Authority Inc.

Shares of Global Sports were up 1-13/16, or about 9 percent, to 22-7/16 in mid-afternoon trading on Nasdaq following news of the pact. Healtheon shares slid 2 to 37-1/16, also on Nasdaq. On the New York Stock Exchange, HealthSouth shares were up 5/16 at 6-1/8 and Sports Authority shares were up 1/16 at 3-1/4.

``This represents a brand new opportunity for us because up until this point we've been running brick-and-mortar retailers' e-commerce businesses,'' Michael Rubin, chairman and chief executive of Global Sports, said in an interview.

As part of the deal, Global Sports gave WebMD 250,000 shares of the company as a prepaid commission against future sales made through the new WebMD channel. These shares, which represent between 1 and 2 percent of GlobalSport's stock, were worth about $5.8 million based on Thursday's opening price.

The new WebMD store (www.webmd.com) is set to launch November 15, the companies said.

Once sales through the WebMD channel exceed the $5.8 million prepaid commission, WebMD will receive 7.5 percent of the gross revenues on all goods sold through its site, WebMD Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Arnold said in an interview.

``We've been really selective about how we were going to enter the market from an e-commerce standpoint,'' Arnold said.

Arnold also said it will also target the more than 100,000 patients seen daily by HealthSouth doctors with point-of-care referrals informing patients they can purchase health and fitness-related products through the WebMD site.

``For WebMD, this really wasn't about creating a revenue share, this was about offering to consumers relevant commerce that's going to enhance the user experience to WebMD,'' Rubin said.

While searching for health information, WebMD users will see products and equipment related to their search, along with consumer information on each product provided by the American Sports Medicine Institute.

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