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MSM + Sports Blogs = $ ??

The big news in the NBA blogosphere over the past few weeks has been the Cuban vs. Blogs dust up which in all likelihood was really just about Cuban vs. a specific Dallas Morning News blogger. The unintended (or perhaps fully intentional) consequence has been a lot of attention to the NBA's blogs from the traditional sports Main Stream Media - at least if the past few weeks are any indication.

Bright Side of the Sun has been contacted now twice by local sports media types and we had a couple of interesting meetings as a result. I don't want to go too far into the nature of the discussions under the assumption that the other parties had no intention of reading about our conversations online. But there were a couple of interesting points that got me thinking about all this sports media / fan hobby stuff in a new light.

In the first meeting with a local radio station the program director talked about how blogs like ours (and by ours, I mean all of our fan generated sites) are really just an extension of talk radio. Opinion driven content in our case targeting the micro-market of highly engaged Suns fans that want far more then an AP report can provide with the added bonus of an interactive community. While the radio jocks will take your calls, you still can't talk to other listeners/fanatics like you can on our blog (thanks to the genius of the SportsBlogs Nation software programming gurus).

My business isn't media or online advertising but I suspect that the potential market size for a site like ours is fairly small.
But partnered with other local sports blogs and teamed up with a radio station or other MSM outlet that has unique in-depth content and team access and you might just have yourself an interesting little business. Having gone through the dot com gold rush of the late 90's, my sense is that the early adopting radio/newspaper/TV stations that lock up the best content partnership deals will be the most successful. On the other hand, look how that all turned out.

In the second meeting there was another very interesting discussion about why traditional sports media outlets are scared of bloggers. I hadn't really given this much thought but off the cuff my answer was a) fear of the unknown b) traditional organization inertia that prevents out-of-the-box thinking and c) lack of strategic leadership to execute on something that is different then making the existing machine run. In other words, I don't really see the barriers as being different then any other business that might or might not do something it's never done before. There's a reason not all companies are able to innovate and it usually has much more to do with culture and leadership then market conditions or opportunities.

I don't really know where this will all lead. And frankly, while I am intrigued by it all I am much more invested emotionally in how the Suns are going to perform over the next few weeks and hopefully months then by what kind of content sharing arrangements we might be able to create.

But still, the potential to link a fan site like ours more directly with the team but without the bothersome issues raised by L'Affaire de Cuban has certainly got the wheels turning.

Update [2008-4-8 10:47:53 by Phoenix Stan]:

To address some questions that came up on the comments:

1) I didn't mean this to be about how how bloggers can make money blogging. Its about another way bloggers can get access outside of Cuban's free-for-all. By partnering with bloggers, media outlets can boost revenue and provide the filtering that the teams can't and don't want to do.

2) Bloggers aren't journalists. Just like Rush Limbaugh isn't Brian Williams a blogger is about opinion and discussion and not about reporting the facts. The market for sports "news" is much more limited then the opporunities to hear from and discuss fresh ideas and perspective. Turn on your local sports talk radio and listen to how much news versus opinion there is and you will see what I mean.

3) While ESPN's purchase of True Hoop and its employment of Henry Abbott was a great thing, it is by no means the only model. A fluid dynamic environment can be created that recognizes and promotes good fan generated content without the overhead associated with employing ten's of paid writers.

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