Sports Websites Ramping Up Coverage And Hirings In Order To See Continued Growth
As the rest of the media industry is “seemingly battling to stay in business, some sports-news websites are ramping up, aggressively hiring in a push for growth,” according to Sam Mamudi of MARKETWATCH. Yahoo Sports and CBSSports.com have recently “lured some of the biggest names in the business away from industry stalwarts," with Yahoo hiring Pat Forde from ESPN and CBSSports.com nabbing Jon Heyman and Pat Kirwan from SI and NFL.com, respectively. Sources said that top online sports journalists like Forde “are commanding salaries exceeding $300,000 a year.” CBSSports.com in the past year has also hired college sports writers Bruce Feldman, Jeff Goodman and Brett McMurphy. CBSSports.com VP/Programming & Exec Producer Jeff Gerttula said, "We've made a conscious decision to (lead) in the news-breaking and information sourcing that's crucial to getting traffic and brand building. We wanted guys who break news and can present themselves as insiders." Yahoo Sports on Dec. 8 “broke two huge sports stories" with Albert Pujols' signing with the Angels and a proposed trade sending Chris Paul to the Lakers. Yahoo said that traffic that day “drew 21% more unique users than on a typical Thursday.” Mamudi wrote there remains “a question of whether a few big hires, and attention-grabbing scoops, really raise traffic.” According to comScore data, CBSSports.com's traffic is “down 27% year-on-year." However, CBSSports.com “credited the popularity of Heyman's reporting as one reason its Major League Baseball coverage has seen a 51% increase in average weekly users." Additionally, traffic to college football stories -- “boosted by Feldman and McMurphy -- has almost doubled.” At the same time, some of the “fastest-growing sites in the industry are built around inexpensive content -- SB Nation and Bleacher Report, for example, have some name writers but are mostly networks of team- and sport-specific sites run and written by fans for free or for a monthly stipend” (MARKETWATCH.com, 2/29).