SBJ/20100524/This Week's Issue

SB Nation, Comcast SportsNet sign deal to share content

SB Nation’s bloggers will appear on Comcast SportsNet’s TV shows and local websites through a content-sharing deal recently signed by the two sides.

Each operation will carry the other’s breaking news and analysis in the markets where they operate together, including Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, Chicago and Northern California. CSN talent also will appear in some SB Nation blogs.

The two outfits will roll out an extensive cross-promotional partnership in other markets over the next year. CSN has locally based digital news operations in eight markets, including Boston and New York.

Specific deal terms were not disclosed, but the agreement does not involve any sales component as each side will continue to sell its own digital inventory, and industry sources said no cash is changing hands.

Comcast’s venture capital arm, Comcast Interactive Capital, led a $7.95 million Series B investment round for SB Nation, which continues to show strong growth through its grassroots approach to digital sports media. SB Nation operates a network of more than 240 locally oriented blogs, primarily devoted to covering individual teams, in part filling a void in local coverage left by the decline of newspapers.

“This is about two companies with complementary offerings who both strongly believe sports is local and regional,” said Jim Bankoff, SB Nation chairman and chief executive. “It’s a straightforward relationship, but one we believe is tremendous validation for each of us in what we’re doing.”

The deal also furthers Comcast’s moves to beef up its local sports websites in markets where it operates regional sports networks. In March, it bought Philadelphia-based sports blog The700Level.com and features much of its content on the CSNPhilly.com site.

“This is part of our multithemed strategy to drive audiences — and engage them — in local markets,” said Eric Grilly, Comcast Sports Group’s executive vice president and chief digital officer.

Grilly said CSNPhilly’s site set a record last month with more than 1 million unique visitors, thanks largely to The700Level.com’s coverage of the on-field tasering of a Phillies fan.

Grilly said that Comcast Sports Group is open to similar partnerships as it continues to get more localized content.

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