SBJ/20091026/This Week's News

New deal tightens the bond for FoxSports-MSN-Yardbarker, and independent blog aggregator Yardbarker have struck a three-year content syndication and advertising sales partnership that deepens an existing relationship between the three hubs.

Building on a smaller, content-for-distribution deal struck in June 2008, the new pact creates a structure in which and gain the ability to sell Yardbarker advertising inventory. Yardbarker content widgets and individual stories will appear throughout and, and Yardbarker editors will work in regular collaboration with their counterparts.

Additionally, Yardbarker content will occasionally be promoted on the highly trafficked home page, and and Microsoft’s Bing search engine will be integrated into Yardbarker’s network.

A formal announcement of the deal is expected this week.

Partnership expands on last year’s deal.

Previously, Yardbarker manually provided with about 10 articles a day to use on an optional basis, and the sites engaged in some cross-linking and co-branding.

The new deal features revenue-sharing provisions buttressed by a revenue guarantee to Yardbarker from the other two parties.

The content at Yardbarker, perhaps best known for its array of blogs written by pro athletes, will form a key part of a newly expanded local and team-centric editorial focus being pursued by Traffic to will now roll up into’s monthly reports, adding more than 2 million unduplicated unique visitors per month to the latter’s total. in September garnered more than 15.4 million unique visitors, according to Nielsen Online data.

“This is an important thing where we see all three sides getting some rather significant value-add,” said Jeff Husvar, Fox Sports Interactive senior vice president of operations. “In our case, we engage more deeply with a younger audience, create a stronger integration with our local content and have another important [sales] tool as we go out in the marketplace.”

With the expanded Yardbarker deal, will continue to de-emphasize a content-for-distribution deal struck with fan journalism outpost Bleacher Report at about the same time as the original Yardbarker agreement.

“We see this as a strong combination between the kind of massive reach that Fox provides to advertisers and the kind of custom-type solutions we build out for sponsors,” said Pete Vlastelica, Yardbarker chief executive and co-founder. “This is definitely a major boost to get out to a larger audience and undoubtedly will give us better access to brand advertisers.”

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