The Big Lead Cashes In For "Low Seven Figures." What Does It Mean For Sports Blogs?


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↵In June 2008, the Los Angeles Times published a column about sports blogs. The story, by David Wharton, was titled "Matter of substance: As they have grown in stature, some sports blogs are showing more caution and getting away from the early days when there were few boundaries concerning content." ↵

↵In that article, many of the top names in sports blogging were quoted, including Deadspin editor A.J. Daulerio who said, "[w]e're trying to make money on this. Without going completely porn, the best way to do that is to add a more journalistic element." ↵

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↵Daulerio has made no bones about the fact that Gawker – Deadspin's parent company – is charged with one thing and one thing only: making money. Blogging is big business, and for many more now than in 2008 – for full disclosure, that includes those of us who write at this fine site – blogging keeps the lights on. How bright those lights shine, of course, is and for the near future will be dependent on traffic. More people show up to your site, more money for you. Simple. Blog. Economics. ↵

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↵At the time, though, Daulerio's comments seemed cold and not necessarily in tune with what a blog was originally supposed to be (note, he later said the quote wasn't exactly correct). We weren't supposed to be in it for the money. It was more about the truth, or the comedy or the hyper-local fan interest that mainstream media was yet to provide. Daulerio's quote about "trying to make money on this," could have been the pull-out headline of that entire story. But it wasn't. ↵

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↵Wharton obviously spun the piece around until it landed on Buzz Bissinger, but Bissinger's comments weren't the pull-out headline either. Neither was any comment from Will Leitch, who originally caught the ire of Bissinger's wrath and became the poster boy for the Basement Dwellers Association of America. No, this was the pull-out headline: ↵

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↵⇥"The initial reaction was 'Buzz is a lunatic,'" McIntyre said. "After that, people calmed down, listened to what he said and thought, 'You know, maybe we should clean up our act a little bit.' " ↵
↵The McIntyre quoted above was obviously none other than Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead. His "clean up our act" line was not exactly well received by those in the blog community, including a post by Leitch – in his final days as the head of Deadspin – who (respectfully) unloaded on McIntyre for, basically, trying to play nice with the MSM. ↵

↵Well, less than two years after that article came out, the playing nice has paid off (big time) for The Big Lead. According to the New York Times, The Big Lead has been purchased by Fantasy Sports Ventures for something in the "low seven figures." ↵

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↵That's millions, folks. That's a lot of money. Via the NYT:  ↵

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↵⇥The buyer, Chris Russo, chief executive of Fantasy Sports Ventures, a network of 600 sports sites, said: “You can’t out-ESPN ESPN, but you can take a different approach. Jason covers general sports and celebrity with an in-depth focus on sports media. Through good journalism and good luck, The Big Lead has succeeded.” ↵⇥

↵⇥Fantasy Sports, which reaches 15 million users monthly through its array of Web properties, ownsTheHuddle.com and BaseballHQ.com, and the basketball news site HoopsHype.com. ↵⇥

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↵⇥The Big Lead is in some ways a tamer, cleaner version of Deadspin, the occasionally ferocious, often ribald sports Web site that is owned by Gawker Media, and also fascinated by ESPN. ↵⇥

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↵I hope to see that on a business card soon: The Big Lead – a tamer, cleaner version of Deadspin. ↵

↵Look, McIntyre has made no bones about the fact that he wanted to eventually get bought out, so this is a culmination of that goal for him, and the site. He does do a good amount of traffic, and as we mentioned earlier, that's what keeps the lights on, folks. ↵

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↵As for what this means for sports blogs? It means nothing. We're not, in fact, a society of basement dwellers who all have membership cards to get past security for our monthly meetings – by the way, Blogs with Balls 3.0, while I'm thinking about it, is this weekend in Chicago. ↵

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↵Personal feelings about McIntyre or the site aside, this deal is great for TBL, but this isn't some giant door that has finally opened for sports bloggers. That door has been opening for years. Leitch opened that door. Jamie and Chris Mottram opened that door. Brooks opened that door. AOL Fanhouse and Yahoo and Sporting News and ESPN and Comcast and Gawker and Yardbarker and UPROXX and other companies who have been doing this for more than half a decade opened that door. This is a fantastic money grab for the proprietor of one specific independent site. It should not, in any major way, change the landscape of sports blogs. Can I go back to my editors now and renegotiate my deal because a fantasy sports company thought it was a prudent business decision to give that much money to McIntyre? I suppose. It doesn't mean they'll comply (note to editors, it'd be nice if you comply). ↵

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↵In the end, this is another step in a long series of steps to make the passion we all have for writing about sports – or sports-centric gossipy news – financially viable. This is a great thing for one site and maybe it will unleash a domino effect of other outlets gobbling up independent blogs. But if you have one of those sites, I wouldn't quit your day job just yet. ↵

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↵By the way, someone call me when they start gobbling up podcasts. That's where the real money will go. ↵

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↵(Note: read Shanoff's take as well.) ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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