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Multilevel Marketing Firm Tees Up Over-The-Top Cable Package

Cable and satellite TV providers may be about to get some new competition from Amway-style "direct selling" firm Team National, which plans to let members purchase and promote a package with two dozen cable TV channels delivered over the Internet.

Team National, based in Davie, Fla., worked with IPTV technology and encoding provider NeuLion to create Team National TV, a 25-channel television service delivered over broadband connections that includes such networks as Fox News Channel, Hallmark Channel, HSN, NFL Network, CBS Sports Network and Outdoor Channel.

The service is scheduled to be available to Team National members by the end of April, for $39.99 per month. The IP set-top box, provided by NeuLion, will cost about $100. Team National claims to have approximately 280,000 members and sales agents across the U.S., who will sell subscriptions to the service.

Other channels included in the Team National package are: Hallmark Movie Channel, Blue Highway TV, HSN, RFD TV, RLTV, My Family TV, Halogen TV, Fox Business Channel, CoLours TV, R&R TV, Men 7, Wealth TV, TBN, JCTV, Smile of a Child, Funimation, Outdoor Sports Channel, WWX and Black Belt TV.

In addition, the service will feature a Team National video-on-demand channel, updated with weekly content featuring videos showcasing products and services available through the company. The marketing company says members can save money on various products and services, including autos, home furnishings and credit card processing.

"Working with NeuLion, Team National was able to do something truly unique -- offer a package of television channels and content specifically chosen to appeal to our [marketing agents] across the U.S. Team National members can save significantly per year from their current cable bill with this new broadcast service," Team National executive vice president Phil Chrysler said.

Currently, Team National TV is available only to members, Chrysler said.

On its website, Team National has a notice to consumers that outlines its policies. In part it says, "As with all leading direct selling companies, it is to be expected that inquiries will arise as to the legitimacy and intent of the Team National marketing program." The company says it responds immediately to inquiries or complaints made about Team National members and its practices, and that the program has been structured to fit within the guidelines approved under the Federal Trade Commission's 1979 Amway decision.

Chrysler said a standard membership to Team National covering a single household for two years is $795, while a premium membership covering multiple households including a business and five employees is $2,195.

Marc Sokol, NeuLion's executive vice president of marketing and business development, noted that Team National has carriage agreements with the networks but that NeuLion provides all the other components. "They're essentially a subscription-acquisition partner," he said.

Plainview, N.Y.-based NeuLion powers other over-the-top services, including KyLinTV; Sky Angel, a Christian-oriented service; Dish Network's DishWorld IPTV service with Arabaic, Hindi and Urdu programming; and Sundance's SundanceNow on-demand service. The company also provides IP video encoding and distribution services for the NHL, the NFL, the NBA and UFC.

NeuLion, publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, reported revenue of $33.2 million and a net loss of $17.2 million for 2010.