Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Huffington Post Sports Launches

Huffington Post Sports launched today, edited by Whitney Snyder, introduced by Arianna Huffington and it looks like they took my advice.

Their contributors list includes the outstanding Dave Zirin, Jeff Ma and Peter Casey -- three folks I ID'ed back in late August as ideal to pitch in to HuffPo Sports.

Other contributors on Day 1: Mike Lupica(?!), agent Arn Tellem, sports stat gurus David Berri (Wages of Wins) and Wayne Winston (Mathletics and last seen working blue on TrueHoop); Chris Tsakalakis (President of StubHub); blogger Eric Angevine; athlete Shannon Rowbery; lawya Roger Abrams; and columnist Paula Duffy.

They all get it: Promotion through contributing to Huffington Post is a great way to build their brands -- the front door of HuffPo is powerful enough that links there can turn HuffPo Sports into a player.

One piece of it is landing "name" contributors. One piece of it is HuffPo's expertise in SEO and other traffic-generating site optimization. One piece of it is curating the best of what's out there on other sports sites, particularly ones breaking news.

And the other -- possibly most important -- piece is HuffPo's ability to latch onto the most popular memes in sports on any given day and inserting itself in the middle of them: The topics that transcend avid sports fans and appeal either to the casual fan or the non-fan (the recent women's soccer thing comes to mind). The site currently leads with Sammy Sosa's freakish face, which was No. 1 on Google Trends on Monday.

The site is going to be successful because the gameplan is simple and extremely effective -- it's the old Green Bay Packers "Lombardi sweep" for the Internet age.

Will it be embraced by the rest of sports media -- particularly the sports-blog universe? Frankly, it doesn't need to be.

(Update: And, in its first 24 hours, it's not. It's being mocked for the most part. One description was "Sports Site For Fans Who Don't Really Care About Sports." You jest, but that is called competitive differentiation. The landscape to reach sports fans is competitive enough as it is; if HuffPo recognizes an underserved "casual fan" audience and serves that audience well, that's to their credit.)

(UPDATE to Update: I mis-characterized the "mockery" above -- the good folks at SB Nation were merely ID'ing the HuffPo's market, and -- in fact -- agreed with me that it is an underserved niche with incredible potential. Apologies for misreading and any misleading I did.)

But if the growth trajectory of the original Huffington Post is any template, the number of contributors will skyrocket over the next few months -- sports bloggers are nothing if not happy to write for free, if it means a little extra self-promotion and the promise of new traffic -- and the page views will be fueled with help from the front-page firehose.

It's a smart spin-off and a solid debut.

-- D.S.

1 comment:

Chris Mottram said...

That was us at SB Nation who called it the "sports site for people who don't care about sports," and it wasn't in jest, for the record. That's their niche, and I'm sure they'll be quite successful with it. We were just calling it what it is.

The link, which you seemed to have left out, is here.