SBJ/April 11-17, 2011/Media

WEEI, SB Nation sign content and sales partnership

Boston sports radio hub WEEI and Washington, D.C.-based national blog network SB Nation have signed a content-sharing and sales partnership, expanding the interactive local efforts of each outfit.

The two will share each other’s work on their sites.
In the pact, the editorial teams for each company will collaborate daily and feature selected pieces of each other’s work on their sites. New content features are being developed, such as a “Behind Enemy Lines” section on the Entercom-owned featuring SB Nation content from markets of Boston team opponents. The two companies will each sell advertising against their combined content.

The initial contract is for one year, though both sides are eyeing a longer-term relationship, and possibly replicating the pact in other Entercom radio markets. Financial details were not disclosed, but the deal is built primarily around revenue sharing.

The deal marks the first time SB Nation has partnered with such a market-leader station.

“The distinguishing feature about this partnership is that it’s so much more integrated than typical deals of this type you usually see,” said Jim Bankoff, SB Nation chairman and chief executive. “Very often, all you see is link shares and very little contact between the parties until the contract is up for renewal. Instead, we’re after a very high degree of collaboration and a real joint sense of how we can each push ourselves to create something really relevant and new.”

For WEEI, the deal continues an aggressive push into digital content over the last three years. In addition to a fully featured website that attracts more than 1.1 million unique visitors a month, the station has ventured into mobile applications for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry platforms, generating more than 420,000 total downloads. The station holds contracts with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, among others, for exclusive weekly on-air interviews, in turn becoming a frequent source of breaking news.

“This is an incredibly competitive sports market, and we’re creating a strong, integrated multimedia strategy to reach fans wherever they are and whatever they’re doing,” said Tim Murphy, Entercom vice president of digital strategy and enterprise platforms. “With SB Nation specifically, we think the combination of our brands and the scope of our content will allow us to leapfrog the competition.”

SB Nation, meanwhile, in the WEEI deal expands a local-market strategy first launched last June. Boston was among the first batch of local-market sites SB Nation created, and its current total of 21 local hubs combines for nearly 4 million unique visitors a month, according to internal metrics.

“We see a great deal of traction in our local strategy, and this [WEEI deal] is definitely an instance where joining forces puts us in an even better position to go after local and super-regional sponsors,” Bankoff said.

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