SB Nation

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SB Nation
SB Nation logo.svg
Logo
Screenshot
SB Nation Screenshot.PNG
Screenshot of SB Nation's home page
Type of site
Sports news
Available in English
Owner Vox Media
Website sbnation.com
Alexa rank Increase 769 (January 2015)[1]
Commercial No
Registration Optional (required for comments/posting)
Launched 31 March 2005; 13 years ago (2005-03-31)[2]
Current status Active

SB Nation (originally known as Sports Blog Nation) is a sports blogging network and Vox Media brand. It was co-founded by Tyler Bleszinski and Markos Moulitsas in 2005. The blog from which the network formed was started by Bleszinski as Athletics Nation in 2003, and focused solely on the Oakland Athletics. It has since expanded to cover sports franchises on a national scale, including all Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Football League, and National Hockey League teams, as well as college and soccer teams, totaling over 300 community sites. In 2011, the network expanded into technology content with The Verge, leading to the parent company Sports Blogs Inc. being rebranded as Vox Media. SB Nation operates from Vox Media's offices in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Corporate affairs and business model[edit]

From 2005 to 2011, the sports blog network SB Nation (originally known as Sports Blog Nation) operated under the parent company Sports Blogs Inc., and was headquartered in Washington, D.C..[3][4] Since Sports Blogs was rebranded as Vox Media, the network has also operated from the digital media company's offices in Manhattan.[5][6]

Vox Media's chief executive officer, Jim Bankoff, has served as SB Nation's CEO since 2009.[7] Elena Bergeron serves as editor-in-chief.[8]

Many contributors to SB Nation work as part-time contractors,[9] and are paid a stipend each month.[3] The network generates revenue through advertising.[9]

History[edit]

SB Nation was co-founded by friends Tyler Bleszinski and Markos Moulitsas in 2005. The single blog from which the network formed was launched by Bleszinski as Athletics Nation in November 2003, and covered only the Oakland Athletics baseball team.[5] Athletics Nation quickly became Blogads's second largest website, following Daily Kos, where Moulitsas served as an editor.[7] Following the blog network's creation, six additional writers were hired to join Bleszinski in creating content, and Daily Kos' platform was implemented to encourage online community growth.[7] Established bloggers were selected to contribute articles, and sports fans could leave comments. After sites were created for all Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), and National Hockey League (NHL) franchises, along with some college and other teams, Bleszinski focused on company growth and making money.[7]

In 2008, SB Nation raised $5 million in a Series A round of financing with Accel Partners, Allen & Company, and Ted Leonsis contributing.[10] Jim Bankoff, who was advising the company during the venture round, became SB Nation's CEO in January 2009.[3][7] The network had approximately 1 million unique users,[11] and nearly 185 blogs by February.[9] The NHL sanctioned and began linking to SB Nation content on its official website in April, when the network was averaging 5 million unique monthly visitors across nearly 200 sites.[10] In July, Comcast's venture capital branch, Comcast Interactive Capital, spearheaded a nearly $8 million second round of financing.[7][12] SB Nation relaunched with a national focus in September.[7] Revenue generated by the network increased by four times in 2009.[3]

In 2010, the network launched 20 regional sites, bringing the total number of sites to nearly 275. SB Nation had 31 full-time employees and was receiving 40 million monthly page views by approximately 8 million unique users, as of mid 2010.[3] Comcast SportsNet (now known as NBC Sports Regional Networks) and SB Nation agreed to a content sharing partnership in shared markets in June 2010.[12] In November, Khosla Ventures led a third round of funding for SB Nation.[4] The $10.5 million received brought the company's total funding to approximately $23 million.[9] SB Nation acquired the blog networks FanTake and The Offside in March 2011, expanding its coverage of college sports and soccer, respectively.[13] The network hired several Engadget employees to launch its first major expansion outside sports.[4][7] SB Nation's parent company, Sports Blogs Inc., rebranded as Vox Media in October,[11] and The Verge launched in November.[7][4] In late 2011, MMAFighting.com was integrated into SB Nation after Vox Media acquired the mixed martial arts site from AOL.[14] MMA Fighting produces The MMA Hour and The MMA Beat, which continue to stream on SB Nation and social media outlets, as of 2017.[15][16]

In September 2012, SB Nation's approximately 300 sites underwent a major redesign, and the company hired its first editorial director.[17] The network's 1,600 writers were trained to use new technology platform developed by Vox Media, called Chorus, and emphasis was placed on long-form content and digital media.[17] The LGBT sports website Outsports was acquired by Vox Media and integrated into SB Nation in March 2013.[18] The site's founders retained editorial control, and the purchase marked the first time a major sports media company acquired an LGBT-focused website.[19] SB Nation was averaging approximately 50 million unique visitors by mid 2013,[5][20] and had approximately 800 contributing bloggers by the end of the year.[21]

Elena Bergeron was named SB Nation's editor-in-chief in 2017.[8] In mid 2017, the sports and culture website The Ringer transferred its publishing platform from Medium to Vox Media's Chorus platform. The site's founder, Bill Simmons, retained ownership and editorial control.[22][23] The Ringer's parent company, Bill Simmons Media Group, and Vox Media agreed to share revenue generated by advertisements sold by Vox Media.[24][25] Vox Media began sharing audience traffic between SB Nation and The Ringer.[26] In February 2018, Vox Media laid off 50 employees, including some members of the SB Nation social video team.[27]

Programming[edit]

In May 2016, SB Nation created an online video series for NBC Sports around NBC Sunday Night Football.[28] The network expanded into radio programming in mid 2016 through a partnership with Gow Media.[29] SB Nation sold its first original television program, Foul Play, to Verizon Communications' media service provider, go90, in September. The network was averaging approximately 70 million unique monthly visitors at this time.[30] Foul Play premiered in May 2018.[31]

In January 2018, SB Nation and Eater aired an online three-episode celebrity cooking competition series sponsored by PepsiCo. The show featured National Football League players Greg Jennings, Rashad Jennings, and Nick Mangold as competitors, as well as chefs Anne Burrell and Josh Capon.[32][33]

Holtzclaw controversy[edit]

In February 2016, the site published a lengthy profile of Daniel Holtzclaw, a former police officer convicted of multiple accounts of rape and other charges, focusing on his college football career. The piece, which was seen as sympathetic to Holtzclaw, was heavily criticized and was taken down within hours of publication. SB Nation's editorial director Spencer Hall apologized for "a complete breakdown" of SB Nation's editorial process, and described the story and its publication as a "complete failure" of site standards.[34][35][36] SB Nation subsequently cut ties with the story's author, freelance journalist Jeff Arnold, and put its longform program on hiatus pending a peer review of the editorial process that led to the Holtzclaw piece being published.[37] The head of the longform program, veteran sportswriter Glenn Stout, was suspended and later fired.[38]

In May 2016, Vox Media published the results of the peer review. It found that the longform program was isolated from the rest of SB Nation in a way that made it impossible for stories to be properly vetted. It also harshly criticized SB Nation for not giving individual editors the authority to review stories about sensitive topics. At the time, sensitive stories were reviewed by the newsroom's two most senior women, senior editor Elena Bergeron and senior content producer Sarah Kogod. The reviewers found that this practice made it appear that an individual editor did not have the responsibility to "care to the fullest extent about matters of ethics, integrity, and accuracy." It also raised concerns about the lack of diversity in the newsroom.[39] Based on the review, SB Nation permanently shelved the longform program, and also announced it would take steps to diversify its newsroom. In a statement, SB Nation said that the Holtzclaw situation revealed that "an organization cannot afford to wait to be diverse, particularly if that organization is one that wants to tell stories."[40]

Recognition[edit]

In 2011, Time included SB Nation in their list of "50 Websites That Make the Web Great".[41] SB Nation was a finalist in the seventh annual Shorty Awards' "fansite" category (2015),[42][43] and received a National Magazine Award (or Ellie Award) in the "Digital Innovation" category in 2018 as the publisher of Jon Bois' narrative, 17776.[44][45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "sbnation.com Site Overview". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "SbNation.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Dubois, Lou (August 20, 2010). "The Evolution of Sports Blog Nation". Inc. ISSN 0162-8968. Retrieved March 20, 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d Swisher, Kara (April 3, 2011). "SB Nation Sacks AOL in Raid of Former Engadget Team for Competing New Tech Site, As AOL Zeroes in on New EiC". All Things Digital. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  5. ^ a b c Orlando, Dan (July 12, 2013). "What's the future of the sports-blogging industry? Here are 3 different answers from rival contenders". New York Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved March 20, 2018. 
  6. ^ Itzkowitz, Laura (January 18, 2018). "New York City's fanciest offices are absolutely jaw-dropping". New York Post. Retrieved May 1, 2018. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lincoln, Kevin (January 9, 2012). "The Raid on AOL: How Vox Pillaged Engadget and Founded an Empire". Business Insider. Axel Springer SE. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  8. ^ a b Fisher, Eric (June 9, 2017). "SB Nation Editor-in-Chief Elena Bergeron aims to deliver what sports fans want". New York Business Journal. Retrieved March 26, 2018. 
  9. ^ a b c d Overly, Steven (December 20, 2010). "SB Nation's sports blogger collective sees bias as a plus". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  10. ^ a b Schonfeld, Erick (April 13, 2009). "SB Nation Scores a Link Deal with the NHL". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  11. ^ a b Kramer, Staci D. (October 31, 2011). "With Launch of The Verge, SB Nation Parent Rebrands as Vox Media". Gigaom. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  12. ^ a b Key, Peter (June 28, 2010). "Comcast SportsNet content sharing with SB Nation". Philadelphia Business Journal. American City Business Journals. ISSN 0744-3587. Retrieved March 20, 2018. 
  13. ^ Kaplan, David (March 3, 2011). "SB Nation Buys Two Sites; Expands College Sports, Global Soccer Coverage". Gigaom. Retrieved March 3, 2018. 
  14. ^ Smith, Michael David (November 7, 2011). "MMA Fighting Sold to Vox Media". MMA Fighting. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  15. ^ Patel, Sahil (August 22, 2017). "How Vox Media's SB Nation is getting people to watch its MMA videos". Digiday. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  16. ^ Cohen, David (June 21, 2017). "Twitter Enters the Octagon With SB Nation's The MMA Hour". Adweek. Beringer Capital. ISSN 0199-2864. Retrieved March 22, 2018. 
  17. ^ a b Warzel, Charlie (September 25, 2012). "SB Nation Relaunches, Hires First Editorial Director". Adweek. Retrieved March 22, 2018. 
  18. ^ Garcia, Michelle (March 5, 2013). "Outsports Acquired By Mainstream Sports News Company SB Nation". The Advocate. Here Media. ISSN 0001-8996. Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  19. ^ O'Keeffe, Michael (March 5, 2013). "Outsports.com, which covers the gay athletes, bought by SB Nation parent company Vox Media". New York Daily News. Tronc. OCLC 9541172. Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  20. ^ Orlando, Dan (June 19, 2013). "Vox Media says design helps charge SB Nation". New York Business Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2018. 
  21. ^ Rondon, Michael (December 1, 2013). "Controlling Contributor Networks: Contributor Networks Are a Great Way to Generate Traffic and Inventory, but They All Hinge on One Assumption". Folio. Retrieved April 18, 2018 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)). 
  22. ^ Boren, Cindy (May 30, 2017). "What Bill Simmons's move of The Ringer to Vox Media means". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  23. ^ Grinapol, Corinne (May 30, 2017). "The Ringer Is Switching Up Platforms". Adweek. Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  24. ^ Jarvey, Natalie (May 30, 2017). "Bill Simmons' The Ringer to Move from Medium to Vox Media's Publishing Platform". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  25. ^ Shields, Mike (May 30, 2017). "Why Vox may be able to revive The Ringer, even though its traffic has plummeted". Business Insider. Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  26. ^ Jackson, Eric (June 1, 2017). "The Ringer and Bill Simmons get a second chance with Vox". CNBC. Retrieved March 27, 2018. 
  27. ^ Spangler, Todd (February 21, 2018). "Vox Media Lays Off 50 Staffers, or 5% of Workforce". Variety. Retrieved March 22, 2018. 
  28. ^ Jarvey, Natalie (May 4, 2016). "Vox Media Sells Home Show 'Prefabulous' to FYI". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 26, 2018. 
  29. ^ Fox, Brooke (July 18, 2016). "SB Nation Expands Into Radio Programming With Gow Media Accord". Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved March 22, 2018. 
  30. ^ Spangler, Todd (September 7, 2017). "Vox Media Sells Its First Original Show: SB Nation's True-Crime Sports Docu-Series for Go90". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. ISSN 0042-2738. OCLC 810134503. Retrieved March 22, 2018. 
  31. ^ Pedersen, Erik (May 23, 2018). "Summer Premiere Dates For New & Returning Series: 2018 Edition". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 13, 2018. 
  32. ^ Bennett, Bennett (January 11, 2018). "Vox Creative and PepsiCo tackle cooking competitions with NFL stars in 'Game Day Grub Match'". The Drum. Retrieved March 13, 2018. 
  33. ^ Richards, Katie (January 10, 2018). "PepsiCo Kicks Off Super Bowl Season With a Social-Driven Cooking Show Featuring Former NFL Stars". Adweek. Retrieved March 26, 2018. 
  34. ^ Bonesteel, Matt (February 18, 2016). "SB Nation is right: Its story about a convicted rapist was a 'complete failure'". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  35. ^ Victor, Daniel (February 18, 2016). "SB Nation Removes Article Criticized as Sympathetic to Convicted Rapist". The New York Times. Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  36. ^ Mitchell, Benjamin F (February 18, 2016). "SB Nation publishes, takes down "failure" of story about Holtzclaw". USA Today. Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  37. ^ Howard, Greg (2016-02-19). "SB Nation Memo Announces Hiatus For Longform Program". Deadspin. 
  38. ^ Howard, Greg (2016-02-26). "How SB Nation Published Their Daniel Holtzclaw Story". Deadspin. 
  39. ^ Peer review of Holtzclaw story
  40. ^ "A note from SB Nation leadership". SB Nation. 2016-05-26. 
  41. ^ McCracken, Harry (August 16, 2011). "50 Websites That Make the Web Great". Time. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  42. ^ Lee, Ashley (March 2, 2015). "Shorty Awards 2015: Nominees Include Shonda Rhimes, Chris Pratt, Laverne Cox". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 18, 2018. 
  43. ^ "Announcing the 7th Annual Shorty Awards finalists!". Shorty Awards. March 2, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2018. 
  44. ^ Hays, Kali (February 1, 2018). "Ellie Awards Nix Magazine Category in Favor of Social, Digital Awards". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved April 18, 2018. 
  45. ^ Dool, Greg (March 13, 2018). "New York and The New Yorker Dominate Ellie Awards Once Again". Folio. Retrieved April 18, 2018. 

External links[edit]