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Volume 21 No. 2
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Readers drawn to media, college deals, personalities

Here’s a look at our “greatest hits” — the top-five, most-read stories on and through Oct. 17. These 10 stories show a clear trend on media, college deal-making and personalities. So here’s the list, and one person’s take on why each story clicked:

1. Fox and Big 12 near deal worth more than $60 million a year (03/14/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: Just months earlier, many were writing the Big 12’s obituary. This story reported that the conference was days away from signing a deal that would triple its revenue.

2. For rivals, it was unite or lose (05/09/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: An inside look at how two media rivals, ESPN and Fox, teamed to win media rights to the then-Pac-10. The deal came in the early stages of the Comcast/NBCUniversal merger, and people were looking to see if the newly merged company would put a sports stake in the ground. Instead, the deal represented a rare partnership designed to keep the newcomers at bay.

3. NHL viewership trends tied to hockey tradition, Northern exposure (02/07/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: Local TV ratings always resonate.

4. Forty Under 40: Class of 2011 (03/21/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: The annual feature showcasing some of the brightest young talent in sports business is consistently one of the most popular features of the year.

5. U.S. sports executives who run Arsenal see slow gains, intense scrutiny (08/15/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: Names you know — Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and Tom Fox — drove readers to this rare, in-depth look at how one of the EPL’s elite clubs is faring under the stewardship of owners and executives groomed in the U.S. sports industry.

1. ESPN’s Bill Simmons Unveils Details Of New Sports/Pop Culture Site (02/18/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: Virtually anything on ESPN, and especially anything on Simmons, gets major eyeballs. This was no doubt fueled by Simmons retweeting this open story to his 1 million-plus Twitter followers.

2. UFC Agrees To Deal With Fox That Will See Up To Four Events Per Year On Broadcast TV (08/16/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: News of this significant deal pushing UFC into the sports media mainstream broke in SBD and represented a tipping point for the MMA series.

3. Pro Football Continues Popularity Among U.S. Sports Fans (01/25/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: This Harris Interactive survey showcased a 25-year trend on sports popularity and showed nearly three in 10 Americans who follow at least one sport said that pro football was their favorite sport. Baseball, while trending down over that same period, was second. This story was a massive hit in the social media sphere.

4. Pac-10 Set To Announce Whopping Media Deal Valued At $3B (05/03/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: As noted above with the SBJ follow, this story, which broke in SBD, showcased a major coup for Larry Scott and the conference with the unique combination of rights for rivals Fox and ESPN.

5. UT To Unveil 20-Year, $300M Deal With ESPN For Longhorn Network (01/19/11)
WHY IT CLICKED: It’s been consistently among the most-read topics of the year — from ideation to formation — and this story outlined the financial details of Longhorn Network for the first time.

Look for our listing of 2011’s most-viewed stories over the full, 12-month period at the end of the year.

Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at