Yes, it is a big deal. A very big deal. Certainly as important in the 15-year history of online sports -- and the 5-year history of sports blogs -- as ESPN acquiring TrueHoop a few years ago.*
NBC Sports has such a massive investment in the NFL that it makes sense to partner with the leading NFL blog to combine with their reach through MSNBC.com. They shouldn't stop there.
* -- Let's all review the lesson here: Be the very best in your sports category -- covering it nationally, not at the team level (for which there is certainly a place, but a necessarily smaller footprint) -- and you put yourself in a position to do a deal with a larger media company.
Now: There is at least one sport with a clearly-the-best blog of national scope -- Every Day Should Be Saturday. Any media company with a big investment in college football should be sprinting with an open wallet to partner with Orson Swindle (who also writes under his real name for SportingNews.com).
While ESPN.com and CBSSports.com both have massive investments in college football, ESPN.com already has a much more robust blog network of in-house correspondents, plus a ton of columnists. Let's be honest: They're loaded.
On the other hand, CBS Sports has their expensive tie-in with the SEC, which is EDSBS native country, plus the good sense to sponsor the BlogPoll. Verne Lundquist loves his site, for crying out loud! But CBSSports.com has few high-end editorial resources, certainly none as good as (or with the reputation of) EDSBS (he owned the sports-blog conference on Saturday).
CBSSports.com has shown recently that they "get it" as it relates to diversifying their product line. At the sports-blog conference this past weekend, I moderated a panel featuring Dan Kelly, CEO of Bleacher Report, which recently signed a win-win deal to provide CBSSports.com with full-time "citizen/fan-journalism" correspondents for every NFL team. There are plenty of aggressive, interesting, value-creating moves left to be made.
Anyway, congrats to Florio and the PFT team on a very good deal -- and congrats to NBC Sports for understanding the landscape in such a way as to do the deal.
UPDATE: AJ's got a good take at Deadspin. Point I want to build on from his analysis:
The way Florio covered the NFL -- very bloggy, to be sure, but also in his technique of tone, style, frequency of updates and...yes...level of scoopage via tipsters -- directly correlates to his success and, presumably, NBC's interest in his type of coverage.
(1) That type of coverage had already started to become a big part of MSM sports coverage; will that accelerate? (2) Even if Florio writes exactly the same, there is suddenly a void under "indie NFL blog" -- anyone going to try to claim it?