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|Slogan||Covering your teams better than anyone else.|
|Owner||Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner)|
|332; 88: United States (July 2015[update])|
Bleacher Report is an American digital media company based in San Francisco and covering hundreds of teams and sports around the world. It is owned by Turner Sports itself a division of Turner Broadcasting System subsidiary of Time Warner.
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.
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.
Under the Turner corporate umbrella, Finocchio remains at B/R as the unit's General Manager. Goldberg and Nemetz transitioned out of their respective VP roles during the integration process. Freund left the company in 2009.
B/R announced the completion of a round of Series A funding on the occasion of its public launch in February 2008. 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. A Series C round in December 2010, led by Crosslink Capital, netted an additional $10.5 million.
In August 2011, the company announced a $22 million growth round led by Oak Investment Partners, with participation from Crosslink and Hillsven. At the time, Oak general partner Fred Harman, a board member at both the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 brand builders and content providers, we were attracted to Bleacher Report’s fast growth to a leading marketplace position and a valued consumer destination. The site will continue to innovate and provide users and sports fans with branded news and information. With our expansive digital rights and resources, Turner will further ensure Bleacher Report's continued growth and success.||”|
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.
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." B/R was also named one of Time magazine's "50 Best Websites of 2011," and was picked by Adweek readers as 2011's "Best Sports Media Brand."
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.
- 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.
- Empowered unqualified writers without editorial oversight, which compromised the prestige and credibility of the sportswriting profession.
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. 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." In December 2012, a lampoon article in The Onion played on the same themes. In July 2014, Deadspin published a lengthy narrative written by Tom Schreier - a former Bleacher Report featured columnist. Detailing his journey from hopeful intern to "just one more drone pumping content to get clicked on," in three years, Schreier "wrote over 500 articles, generated nearly three million page views, and received $200 for [his] services."
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 emphasis on enhancing quality and credibility by doing the following:
- 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.
- Introducing educational resources for new and veteran writers, including the "B/R U" new-media training program.
- Establishing a paid team of Lead Writers to headline the network's sport-specific writer communities.
Although some detractors likened such changes "to spritzing a little room deodorizer after leaving a steaming deposit in the toilet and failing to flush," apart from a published rebuttal disputing the objectivity and accuracy of the October 2012 SF Weekly article, 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 Mike Freeman as a columnist from CBSSports.com. They then brought on National Basketball Association (NBA) reporter Howard Beck from the New York Times. He was convinced by B/R that they were on the verge of transforming its website. In addition to Beck becoming their lead NBA writer, B/R also added Ethan Skolnick from The Palm Beach Post to report on the Miami Heat, Kevin Ding of Orange County Register to cover the Los Angeles Lakers, and Jared Zwerling from ESPN to pen NBA features.
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