Bleacher Report

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Bleacher Report
Bleacher Report Logo.svg
Web address BleacherReport.com
Slogan Covering your teams better than anyone else.
Registration Optional
Owner Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner)
Launched 2007
Alexa rank positive decrease 231; 81: United States (April 2014)[1]

Bleacher Report is an American digital media company based in San Francisco and covering hundreds of teams and sports around the world.

The company, also known as B/R, specializes in creating and curating content about trending news topics, with an emphasis on delivering opinion-oriented analysis and multimedia programming via varied content formats and mobile technologies.[2][3][4]

Bleacher Report was acquired by Turner Broadcasting System (a subsidiary of Time Warner) in August 2012 for an undisclosed sum reportedly near $200 million.[5]

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

Bleacher Report was founded in 2007 by David Finocchio, Alexander Freund, Bryan Goldberg, and David Nemetz—four friends and sports fans who had been high school classmates at Menlo School in Atherton, California.[6][7]

Under the Turner corporate umbrella, Finocchio remains at B/R as the unit's General Manager. [8] Goldberg and Nemetz transitioned out of their respective VP roles during the integration process. Freund left the company in 2009.[9]

Funding[edit]

B/R announced the completion of a round of Series A funding on the occasion of its public launch in February 2008.[10] The undisclosed sum came from Hillsven Capital, Transcoast Capital, and Vimeo founder Jakob Lodwick.

Eight months later, in October 2008, B/R secured $3.5 million in Series B funding from Hillsven, Gordon Crawford, and SoftTech VC.[11] A Series C round in December 2010, led by Crosslink Capital, netted an additional $10.5 million.[12][13]

In August 2011, the company announced a $22 million growth round led by Oak Investment Partners, with participation from Crosslink and Hillsven.[14] At the time, Oak general partner Fred Harman, a board member at both the Huffington Post and Demand Media, characterized the investment as a bet on B/R's ability to keep pace with real-time fan interest across all forms of social media.[14]

Executive hires[edit]

The company named Brian Grey as its Chief Executive Officer in 2010. Grey came to Bleacher Report from leadership roles at Fox Sports Interactive and Yahoo! Sports.[15]

In the first year of Grey's tenure, B/R filled two more executive-level positions, adding Rich Calacci as Chief Revenue Officer and Drew Atherton as Chief Financial Officer. Calacci joined the company in May 2011; Atherton followed a month later in June.[16][17]

Calacci had previously served as CBS Interactive's Senior VP of Sales. Atherton's most recent experience had been at Demand Media, where he was COO and CFO of the company's registrar services division.[8]

Acquisition[edit]

B/R's sale to TBS was announced on August 6, 2012. Under the terms of the deal, Grey, Finocchio, Calacci, and CTO Sam Parnell all assumed official Turner Sports titles while retaining their management responsibilities at B/R.[18]

In a press release announcing the purchase, Turner president of sales, distribution, and sports David Levy cited B/R's rapid growth and loyal user base as key factors in his company's decision to make a deal—and also alluded to the potential value of B/R's multimedia platform as an outlet for Turner's various video resources:

As part of the integration process, Atherton's CFO responsibilities were assumed by Turner corporate in February 2013, and Grey stepped down from the CEO position in October 2013. Since Grey's departure, Finocchio has headed Bleacher Report in a General Manager capacity.

Accolades[edit]

Forbes.com called Bleacher Report "one of the leaders" among sports startups "figuring out the digital space" in August 2011, noting the company's success in "providing publishing tools to all sorts of knowledgeable sports fans to report and express what they know."[19] B/R was also named one of Time magazine's "50 Best Websites of 2011,"[20] and was picked by Adweek readers as 2011's "Best Sports Media Brand."[21]

Public relations[edit]

Criticism[edit]

Early criticism of Bleacher Report stemmed from the network's initial commitment to an open-source publishing model. Such critiques cited the fact that all registered B/R users were permitted to publish articles on the site, arguing that B/R's policy:

  • Resulted in a glut of low-quality content, which made it difficult for the network's readers to find credible coverage of their favorite teams and sports[22]
  • Tarnished the reputation of every writer associated with the B/R brand, which made it difficult for the network's more talented contributors to build loyal audiences[23]
  • Empowered unqualified writers without editorial oversight, which compromised the prestige and credibility of the sportswriting profession[24]

Since abandoning the open-source model in 2010, B/R has been the subject of continued criticism for its exploitation of unpaid contributors, its blanket policy prohibiting writers from breaking their own news, and its high-volume production of low-quality, search-optimized slideshow content.[25][26] These critiques found their strongest voice to date in an October 2012 SF Weekly article, in which tech columnist and entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa was quoted accusing B/R of "dumbing down of the web" with "custom-manufactured garbage."[26] In December 2012, a lampoon article in The Onion played on the same themes.[27]

Response[edit]

Bleacher Report attempted to address the concerns of its early critics by making substantive reforms to its editorial and personnel policies in 2010 and 2011. These reforms were aimed chiefly at the mechanics of B/R's Writer Program, with an emphasis on enhancing quality and credibility by...

  • Initiating a formal application process for all prospective writers, wherein only the top 20 percent of candidates earn the right to publish on the site[28][29]
  • Introducing educational resources for new and veteran writers, including the "B/R U" new-media training program[30]
  • Establishing a paid team of Lead Writers to headline the network's sport-specific writer communities[31]

Although some detractors likened such changes "to spritzing a little room deodorizer after leaving a steaming deposit in the toilet and failing to flush,"[26] apart from a published rebuttal disputing the objectivity and accuracy of the October 2012 SF Weekly article,[32] B/R has not mounted a substantive response to ongoing criticism of its contributor compensation structure, news-breaking policy, or search-optimization strategies.

In 2013, B/R hired National Basketball Association (NBA) reporter Howard Beck from the New York Times. Beck was convinced by B/R that the company was on the verge of transforming its site.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bleacherreport.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^ Angelova, Kamelia (2011-07-20). "Bleacher Report CEO: Why Slideshows Are A Good Thing For Readers - SAICast". Business Insider. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  3. ^ Fidelman, Mark (2011-03-08). "Why BleacherReport.com Is Killing ESPN.com By Leveraging Social Media". Business Insider. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  4. ^ "Bleacher Report Arrives On iPad With New Team Stream App". TechCrunch. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  5. ^ Bercovici, Jeff. "Turner Buys Bleacher Report, Next-Gen Sports Site, for $175M-Plus". Forbes.com. 
  6. ^ "Company Overview". Bleacherreport.com. 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  7. ^ "Mark Fidelman". Menlo School. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  8. ^ a b "Our Team". Bleacherreport.com. 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  9. ^ Shontell, Alyson (2011-09-23). "The Youngest, Most Successful Tech Founders". Business Insider. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  10. ^ Ostrow, Adam (2008-02-19). "Bleacher Report Launches Citizen Journalism for Sports; Raises Series A". Mashable.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  11. ^ "Bleacher Report Hunkers Down With $3.5 Million More". TechCrunch. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  12. ^ "Bleacher Report Raises $10.5M; Now Fifth Largest Sports Site". TechCrunch. 2010-12-20. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  13. ^ "Bleacher Report Completes $10.5 Million Series C Capital Investment". Business Wire. 2010-12-20. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  14. ^ a b "As Football Season Kicks Off, Bleacher Report Raises $22 Million More". TechCrunch. 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  15. ^ "Bleacher Report Taps Ex-Yahoo/Fox Sports Exec Brian Grey As CEO — paidContent". Paidcontent.org. 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  16. ^ "Bleacher Report Hires New Head of Revenue; Traffic Continues to Surge in May". TechCrunch. 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  17. ^ "Industry Moves: Grantland; Bleacher Report; Payfone; Kenshoo; Kantar; Feed — paidContent". Paidcontent.org. 2011-06-30. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  18. ^ a b "Update: It’s Done. Time Warner Buys Bleacher Report, Price Reportedly $175M". TechCrunch. 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  19. ^ DVorkin, Lewis. "Who's Doing It Right? Bleacher Report Turns Knowing Fans Into Reporters". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  20. ^ "The 50 Best Websites Of 2011". Time. 2011-08-16. 
  21. ^ Beltrone, Gabriel. "Sports Media and Marketing MVPs". Adweek. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  22. ^ Sellathamby, Kevin (2010-07-14). "Bleacher Report Sucks - Battle of California". Battleofcali.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  23. ^ "Why BleacherReport Is Terrible: Part One of a Two Million Part Series". thejetsblog.com. 2010-03-01. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  24. ^ Kindred, Dave (2011-02-04). "Waiting for the day readers march in and demand an end to the dreck". Sportsjournalism.org. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  25. ^ Brown, Larry (2011-08-22). "Bleacher Report Merely Window Dressing with New Hires". LarryBrownSports.com. Retrieved 2013-01-03. 
  26. ^ a b c Eskenazi, Joe (2012-10-03). "Top 5 Ways Bleacher Report Rules the World!". sfweekly.com. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  27. ^ "Furious Bleacher Report Editor Will Make Staff Rank Things All Fucking Night If He Has To". theonion.com. 2012-12-10. Retrieved 2013-01-03. 
  28. ^ Koo, Ben (2010-06-17). "Big Changes at Bleacher Report". Benkoo.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  29. ^ Bercovici, Jeff (2011-08-22). "To Pay or Not to Pay? Bleacher Report Finds a Third Way". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  30. ^ Ellis, Justin (2012-07-11). "Bleacher Report ups its game by taking contributors to school » Nieman Journalism Lab". Niemanlab.org. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  31. ^ "Bleacher Report Adds Prominent Bloggers For "Lead Writer Program"". SportsBusiness Daily. 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  32. ^ Kaufman, King (2010-10-05). "The many ways SF Weekly is wrong about Bleacher Report". blog.bleacherreport.com. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  33. ^ http://deadspin.com/why-howard-beck-left-the-new-york-times-for-bleacher-re-1349408343