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Team Baby Ready to Hit the Big Leagues

Michael Eisner's firm will announce today deals with NASCAR, the NBA and pro baseball to make videos for tykes.

July 11, 2006|Lorenza Munoz | Times Staff Writer

Babies, rev up your engines.

Michael Eisner's Team Baby Entertainment has signed a deal with NASCAR to make sports booster videos for newborns and toddlers to watch alongside their cheering parents.

The company currently concentrates on college-sports booster videos aimed at children ages 6 months to 5 years. Its expansion into professional sports will be unveiled today, when Team Baby announces not only the NASCAR deal, but contracts with the National Basketball Assn. and Major League Baseball.

"We are raising that next generation of fan," said Greg Scheinman, the 32-year-old founder of Team Baby and father of a 2-year-old. "This is the earliest form of recruiting I am aware of."

Founded last year, Team Baby was purchased in June by Eisner's private investment firm, Tornante Co. Since retiring last year as chief executive of Walt Disney Co., Eisner has been hosting his own TV talk show on CNBC. Tornante also has invested in Veoh Networks Inc., a San Diego-based Internet video and television programming delivery service.

Eisner was not available for an interview.

Team Baby's child-friendly college booster DVDs each feature a different university and star children dressed in football and cheerleading outfits dancing to a school's fight song. Team Baby has in its catalog videos from 20 Division I schools of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn., including "Baby Badger" for the University of Wisconsin, "Baby Wildcat" for the University of Kentucky and "Baby Gator" for the University of Florida.

Scheinman acknowledges that it may be challenging to make an educational and child-friendly promotional video about a sport that thrives on speed driving and is sometimes sponsored by beer and candy manufacturers.

But the NASCAR educational videos will focus on the primary colors of the cars, the shapes of the wheels to teach the concept of a circle and on the pit crews to demonstrate team work, Scheinman said.

"The cars do crash; we can't sugar coat that," said Scheinman, who is the company's chief executive. "And we won't have beer ads.... There is an M&M car, but we are not selling the candy. It's just a really, really nice, fun, painted car."

The 35-minute basketball and baseball videos will include images from professional teams and children dressed in team uniforms dancing to original Team Baby music, which varies from marching-band-style songs to rock and pop.

Scheinman said the company plans to roll out its first videos for the three professional sports by Nov. 1. He said he began negotiating with the governing bodies of the sports before Eisner bought the company last month, but lacked the capital to expand.

"The biggest worry I had ... was how was I going to afford it," Scheinman said.

The terms of the deal to acquire Team Baby were not disclosed.

Scheinman hopes to one day conquer babies and parents all over the world with the planet's most popular sport: soccer.

"You see how many people are fanatical about the World Cup," he said. "I do believe our business has international potential on that front."

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