By Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 10, 2009
SBNation, a District-based sports blogging site, is expanding its offerings as the start-up seeks to turn a profit in the increasingly competitive online sports marketplace.
The five-year-old media company is launching an updated SBNation.com site that offers faster updates of the day's sports events and players, and will tap other social media and sports sites to create a daily story line for its fans, the company announced.
The site already has 212 bloggers, many part-time, covering U.S. professional sports teams and most major college sports programs, as well as other sports such as tennis and fantasy leagues. The company has around 15 full-time employees.
The online sports site, which says it has 7.5 million unique monthly visitors, has received $10 million in investor capital to date, including $7 million in June. The money is being used, in part, to hire new employees, improve technology and build a marketing staff.
The new employees include three editors who will shepherd the day's coverage. They include Chris Mottram, who hosted AOL's sports podcast and ran the Sporting Blog for SportingNews.com; Spencer Hall, who wrote for SportingNews.com; and Eamonn Brennan, former editor and lead writer at the Dagger, the official NCAA basketball blog for Yahoo Sports.
"Part of what we are investing in is making sure we have the capabilities in place to grow our advertising," said SBNation chief executive Jim Bankoff, who once oversaw various Web offerings at AOL. "We are investing behind the scenes in systems and people to grow our revenue. We think we can build a large and profitable media company."
Bankoff declined to provide revenue details except to say SBNation will reach profitability "soon."
The National Football League and Sprint, the telecommunications firm, are sponsors of the new launch.
The venture is partly backed by local investors, including Washington Capitals owner and former AOL mogul Ted Leonsis and former Washington Post Co. executive Chris Schroeder.
Other investors include New York City investment bank Allen & Co. and Comcast Interactive Capital, an investment arm of the Philadelphia-based cable company.