31 Mar Bleacher Report Spending $35 Million on Social Content
If you’re into sports, you probably remember a day, maybe about five or six years ago, when Bleacher Report was thought of as a “content farm.” That was not meant as a compliment, and it’s not a phrase you hear much anymore because (1) it’s more difficult to game Google’s algorithms now and (b) all the content farms either went away or shifted strategy and are making gobs and gobs of money.
Which brings us to the news reported earlier this week about B/R.
Turner Broadcasting, which owns Bleacher Report, is investing $100 million into it, and spending a good chunk of that assembling a 35-person team of social content creators. The idea is to dominate the sports social media landscape, and worry about pageviews and monetization later.
Like all publishers, Bleacher Report is wrestling with how to adapt to the platforms era. It is not, however, spending much time hand-wringing over a loss of control. The mandate is: build as large of a reach as possible on platforms, worry about making money later. Speaking on the Digiday Podcast earlier this month, Brown said publishers who don’t embrace platform distribution will end up “in trouble.”
This isn’t not an entirely new idea for Bleacher Report. It’s existing social media outlets display levels of activity, creativity and speed that are topped by nobody in the sports media industry. Most outlets don’t even try to do what Bleacher Report does, and most of the ones that do simply don’t have the staff to create the sheer volume of quality social content Bleacher Report does. It’s not just posting a highlight, it’s meme-ing it.
This $100 million investment is a signal that Bleacher Report is going for total domination. Since those content-farm days, when most of the content was listicles generated for little or no money by young sports fans looking for an outlet, it has expanded in every direction, hiring name journalists away from major media outlets, expanding its video production, creating a robust TeamStream app and now doubling down on social.
It is the modern model for creating a media powerhouse — offer people lots of candy at first, and once they get used to coming to you, start giving them some real food.
This massive investment is a strategy you can really only deploy if you have deep pockets. Time will tell if it works out, but Bleacher Report hasn’t been wrong yet.