First USA Inc. has bought its ticket to the entertainment industry.

The Dallas-based issuer signed a deal Tuesday with Ticketmaster Group Inc. to issue a no-fee cobranded Ticketmaster MasterCard in the spring.

Although details of the pact are incomplete, cardholders are expected to net rewards on events ranging from concerts and sporting events to movies and plays.

"The significance of the deal will only be determined by the value of the benefits to consumers," said Frances M. Dale, president of Entandem, Reston, Va.

Ms. Dale said the program had the potential to rival Viacom Inc.'s Blockbuster Visa program. At the time of its launch in 1995, the card was said to have opened the entertainment category for the cobranding industry. The Blockbuster card offers discounts at Paramount theme parks, for the Showtime cable television channel, and rebates on Blockbuster video and music purchases.

The agreement allows First USA, an aggressive leader in cobranding and affinity marketing, to benefit from the $1.6 billion tickets Ticketmaster sells each year.

What's more, it gives First USA access to Ticketmaster's proprietary data base of 25 million ticket buyers.

Fredric D. Rosen, president and chief executive officer of Los Angeles- based Ticketmaster, said the fourth-largest issuer of bank cards partnered with the company because of its "proven ability to reach the vast entertainment market."

First USA was not available for comment.

"The deal comes as no surprise," said Michael Rosen, equity analyst at Lazard Freres & Co. in New York. "Cobranding was discussed as a positive opportunity in the future when Ticketmaster had its initial public offering (in November). It will do a lot to leverage and promote Ticketmaster's brand name," he added.

Meanwhile, the cobranded card will further solidify MasterCard's arrangement as the preferred method of payment for Ticketmaster transactions, a sponsorship struck late last year.

"First USA could definitely benefit from how MasterCard and Ticketmaster promote the arrangement," Ms. Dale said.

The relationship is akin to that of Visa U.S.A. and MBNA Corp. Visa's official sponsorship of the National Football League led to an exclusive cobranded card issued by MBNA in 1995.

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