Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why Sports Aggregators Aren't Hated

Terrific combo of reporting and analysis in Craig Fehrman's Big Money piece on sports aggregators.

Don't discount a couple other factors:

*The sports editors and reporters in traditional media (newspapers, especially) seem (or are) particularly unsophisticated about new-media realities, certainly relative to their peers who work in the national/politics/business section (with much tighter oversight from EiC's).

*In sports, the scoop -- of either rumor or reality -- is absolutely the most overrated thing you can "win."

I'm not saying that original reporting isn't important -- and someone's gotta be first. But 90 percent of the time, that "first" will be inevitably discovered. Plus: It is commodified as quickly as it is published.

An even more extreme example than MLBTradeRumors is HoopsHype.com's rumor section, which seems to simply cut-and-paste directly from NBA stories their entire nut graf or key reported quote. Again, most NBA reporters seem to swear by it, rather than swear at it.

Are they devaluing their (or their employer's) work? Or are they willing participants in the link economy? I guess it would help to know what kind of click-through rates the aggregated content gets. My suspicion is that the answer is "Not as much as you would think -- or like."

Of course, if reporters care more about their brand than their newspaper getting traffic for their work, they won't be working at that newspaper for long. But with enough focus on their personal brand, those reporters will have long decamped for more stable "national" sports-media companies.

What is most interesting is that this aggregation should be subject to the same commodifying competitive forces as the reporting and rumor-mongering it accumulates:

Given its success, why aren't there 10 sites just like MLBTradeRumors, both "indie" and done by the big mainstream sites?

-- D.S.

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