SBJ/20081215/This Week's News

Duke basketball getting stand-alone Web site

Duke University plans to formally launch a Web site this week dedicated to men’s basketball that represents yet another unique way schools are creating and controlling their own content.

DukeBluePlanet.com will be independent of the Blue Devils’ official athletic site, GoDuke.com, and feature player video blogs, game highlights, behind-the-scenes video, and insider information on current and former players.

Uncommon Thinking, a Chicago-based agency, designed and developed DukeBluePlanet.com. David Bradley, Duke’s men’s basketball recruiting coordinator, will manage the content of the site day-to-day. The launch expands on blogging efforts by Bradley as well as other content already online specific to the basketball program.

JumpTV, which has the rights to GoDuke.com, will have access to the content being produced by Blue Planet, but the sites typically will not link to one another and there will not be a formal relationship between the two, which raises questions about the boundaries of Web site rights.

“Men’s basketball has been very aggressive and entrepreneurial to try something different like this, to be more relevant, more on the edge,” said Boo Corrigan, Duke’s senior associate athletic director. “This gives them a chance to say, ‘This is who we are and what we are.’ With all of the player video, this site really comes at it from a different angle.”

Bradley said JumpTV officials were a part of the meetings in the planning stages for the site.

“If GoDuke wants any content we have — video, photos — we give it to them,” Bradley said. “They have pulled a few of our videos and run them.”

Blue Planet, a free site, will not feature advertising, although Duke eventually may seek financial support from donors to pay for it. Expenses for the site are currently coming out of the men’s basketball budget.

Chris Wagner, executive vice president and co-founder of NeuLion, which merged with JumpTV this year, said the only potential threat to GoDuke.com could come from Blue Planet stealing eyeballs away from the official athletic site, which sells advertising based on viewers. “If you have content a bunch of different places, it becomes a little more difficult to generate meaningful revenue,” Wagner said.

DukeBluePlanet.com, with Facebook and
iTunes components, will target teenagers.

The rare instances that Blue Planet will link to GoDuke.com is for roster and statistical information, although Blue Planet, in its attempt to keep its content unique, will have video of players introducing themselves to replace the standard roster page.

While it’s not uncommon for schools to create Web sites separate from their own official athletic site, most of those are named after the football or basketball coach and serve as a supplement to the official site. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has his own CoachK.com with Duke and Team USA information.

Penn State has developed a different model with GoPSF.com, a site exclusive to Nittany Lions football, and GoPSB.com for its basketball team. These sites, like Blue Planet, are more than just pages off the front of the official athletic site (GoPSUSports.com). They’re sites unto themselves with unique content. Mostly, these sites are geared toward recruiting, and Blue Planet is no different in its mission to reach prospects, but it has much more of a player focus.

There are also Facebook and iTunes components to Blue Planet, which helps the site speak the language of its teenage target audience, while also providing the insider video that appeals to diehard fans.

At a time when NCAA legislation has trimmed pages out of team media guides, which were once considered a recruiting tool, and halted a coach’s ability to text-message prospects, there is no legislation on how teams can promote themselves on the Internet.

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