June 27, 2006 7:05 AM PDT
AOL sponsors online extreme-sports network
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AOL and video production company Fusion Entertainment have launched a Web site focused on action sports such as surfing, snowboarding, and BMX biking. The joint venture, Lat34.com, is named after the geographic coordinate (34 degrees North) of AOL's Los Angeles office. It is currently in beta-testing mode and is expected to expand over the summer to include on-demand video and photo content about action sports culture from stunts to fashion. Lat34 will feature a searchable database of athlete biographies, Web links and events, plus social-networking functions such as blogs, message boards, meet-up groups and the AOL Instant Messenger client.
According to an American Sports Data survey, about 100 million Americans count themselves as action sports fans. Lat34 is not the first instance of an online-media behemoth venturing into the world of Web-based sports programming. Several months ago, Google announced a partnership with Nike to create the soccer fan network Joga. Fusion, a Portland, Ore.-based programming provider for action sports, has previously worked with television networks such as Spike TV, MTV and ESPN.