SBJ/February 4-10, 2013/Media

LockerDome joins USA Today sports network

The USA Today Sports Media Group has struck a strategic partnership with LockerDome in which the St. Louis-based, sports-oriented social media network will become part of the USA Today Sports Digital Properties network.

LockerDome seeks to blend elements of sports digital media — including team fan sites, management portals for youth sports teams and athlete-driven social media — into a hub. The site has partnerships with hundreds of individual pro athletes and sports entities, including Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Dime Magazine and sporting goods brand Rawlings.

USA Today Sports Media Group will sell advertising in LockerDome’s network, and the two entities are developing content initiatives for the coming year. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the pact will be based upon revenue sharing. The deal is for calendar year 2013 with a potential of additional terms.

“The LockerDome guys bring a highly engaged social audience that will be very attractive to our advertisers,” said Chris Pirrone, general manager of digital sports properties for the USA Today Sports Media Group. “But we also see big opportunity to feed in some of our content, both from our national-level material and content from the [Gannett Co.-owned] local outlets, into these hyper-focused communities of theirs.”

The USA Today Sports Digital Properties network comprises more than 200 outlets that are either owned outright by the company or are represented by USA Today Sports Media Group in some fashion for advertisers. The entity is one of three main pillars of the USA Today Sports Media Group, joining the national-level newspaper and more than 100 Gannett-owned local newspapers and TV stations.

LockerDome’s investors and advisers include Brian and Carol Matthews, co-founders of industry pioneer CDM Fantasy Sports, and former Universal sports and AOL Sports executive Carlos Silva. The company’s connections to the fantasy sports industry, particularly Silva in his current role as managing director and entrepreneur-in-residence at sports investment bank Park Lane, led to a contact with USA Today Sports Media Group.

LockerDome will become part of USA Today Sports Media Group’s traffic within third-party measurement reports such as comScore. USA Today Sports Media Group in December ranked fifth in reach among U.S. sports sites with an audience of 20.7 million unique users.

“Putting a very fast-growing entity like us with one of the biggest outfits in the industry is going to create some really meaningful lift,” said Gabe Lozano, LockerDome founder and chief executive.

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