When Sporting News' Sporting-News.com ended its partnership with Fox Sports last year, the site turned to its 5 million registered users to help grow its desirable young male demographic.
Last fall, Sporting-News.com offered each registered user a free blog, a buddy network, and a ranking, from rookie (one star) to most valued player (five stars). It empowered users to comment on any story on the site and to flag inappropriate posts, which endanger rankings.
Users now eagerly interact with the site and each other, and have organized them-selves into communities of fans. "Traffic has jumped to 86 million page views off of 1.6 million uniques, and hang time leads the sports category with 79.1 minutes," says spokes-man Drew Kerr.
Ad revenues rose 50 percent in the fourth quarter, says Jason Kint, the site's vice president, general manager. "Three years ago, advertisers were allergic to anything user-generated," Kint says. "The pride of being a sports fan really has controlled the discussion."