What AOL + Huffington Post Means For Sports Media

Maybe it was coincidence, but the fact that AOL announced its acquisition of The Huffington Post at midnight ET after the Super Bowl made me think the deal announcement had been timed to compete with water cooler chatter the next morning in offices around the country. Okay, maybe just offices in New York, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, but it did indeed compete for airtime versus the Packers win over the Steelers.

AOL's $315 million purchase of the most visible "next gen" digital publishing platform reconfirmed what we've seen evolving in sports digital media for a while now. The HuffPo deal confirms that the digital sports media world is not only changing, but that it's changing rapidly for consumers, contributors, and advertisers.

For consumers, the landscape has evolved dramatically in even the last few years. The amount of content being published about your favorite teams or the sports topics you care about has grown dramatically, as have the number of outlets that deliver sports programming. Our business, Bleacher Report, didn't exist even four years ago and The Huffington Post even expanded its offerings to include a sports section.

Consumer choice in sports media is a good thing. AOL has smartly recognized that owning and operating a small walled garden creates less audience growth potential than tapping into a media model that offers original programming and valuable aggregation. That's a model that works for us through, for example, our over 1 million newsletter subscribers where we send thousands of links off to other content providers on top of the links we point people to on our site.

For contributors, such outlets open up opportunities to be heard, to bring more voices to more readers. No longer is sports media limited to the few writers who have a press pass and exclusive access to the press box. Thanks to cable and satellite TV, millions of people today can watch the same games, hear the same press conference sound bites, and form cogent analysis and opinion about what it all means.

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