So what does a five-year-old sports start-up do with $13 million in funding? Blog network SBNation is spending some of it on a new strategy that adds a layer of senior editors and a real-time, edited news stream, pulling the 212 blogs into what CEO Jim Bankoff now calls a “national sports site.” The stream, which went live overnight, now includes news, commentary, and discussion from SBNation’s blogs, the new editors, third-party sites and social media. Bankoff describes some of the changes as adding a “human touch” that helps make the content “much more valuable than a robotic aggregator.”
At the same time, SBNation continues to flex its local muscles through a content partnership with AOL’s Fanhouse: SBNation has added a feed from Fanhouse to give it more heft, while Fanhouse is going to pick up SBNation to add local coverage to its national spin.
As is the case with so many strategic partnerships, money isn’t involved and it’s non-exclusive. Fanhouse has more traffic — AOL (NYSE: TWX) says about 10-to-11 million uniques depending on the month, while SBNation claims 7.5 million uniques across its network — and the AOL firehose to tap into. But AOL’s Marty Moe, SVP of MediaGlow, suspects the overlap is minimal and the traffic exchange will be incremental.
He also doesn’t see any competition with SBNation’s national ambitions: “The direction we’re going in is to be among the premier national brands for high-quality premium sports journalism.” That’s why AOL has emphasized building a staff of strong national correspondents. (Today the site adds Thomas George, a veteran football writer for the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) and NFL.com.) He adds, “What makes [SBNation] engaging and unique is that it’s a blogger network with intense fans that are writing. Each has a different appeal.”