Turner's move to bring together CNN and Bleacher Report is a move that transforms the entire sports landscape. When it was made public that CNN was moving ahead with Bleacher Report in place of Sports Illustrated, we were told this was only the beginning of a wider integration of b/r content across Turner Broadcasting and Turner Sports. As if the initial news of b/r ousting SI didn't create enough debate and discussion around the industry, the next steps will bring even more shock waves.
CNN is bringing Bleacher Report to television with branded sports segments throughout the day on both CNN and Headline News. Bleacher Report's television debut will come February 2nd, the day before the Super Bowl, with a one hour CNN special. The special won't star any b/r writers though, instead it'll be hosted by new CNN acquisition Rachel Nichols and Turner's Ernie Johnson. The b/r updates will begin in full throughout the day on Tuesday February 5th. More details from CNN...
"Turner Sports and CNN will partner to produce Bleacher Report branded sports programming including long-form specials and daily sports updates that will air on CNN and HLN, it was announced today by Lenny Daniels, executive vice president/chief operating officer for Turner Sports, and Ken Jautz, executive vice president, CNN/U.S.
The first of the programming collaborations will be Kickoff in New Orleans: A CNN-Bleacher Report Special, a live one-hour show on CNN to be televised Saturday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. ET. And, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 5, CNN will air Bleacher Report sports updates daily as cut-in segments throughout morning broadcasts on CNN, as well as throughout the day on HLN. With information on the latest topics affecting sports teams and fans, these 3-4 minute segments will combine CNN newsgathering resources with the unique perspective of Bleacher Report to offer a comprehensive overview of sports news and information.
Originating from New Orleans, the Super Bowl XLVII host city, Kickoff in New Orleans: A CNN-Bleacher Report Special, will include a series of features, interviews and profiles that capture the excitement the marquee event brings to the city. The show will be co-hosted by Ernie Johnson, host of TNT’s Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA, and Rachel Nichols, the newly-hired veteran sports reporter for CNN and Turner Sports."
The fascinating aspect of Turner expanding b/r's reach with television content is the further amalgamation of the Bleacher Report and Turner brands. CNN's sports department will become Bleacher Report and Bleacher Report will become CNN's sports department. Let that sink in.
In reality, there's very little about the CNN Super Bowl special that screams "Bleacher Report" aside from the name attached to the title. The only uniquely b/r element about the Super Bowl special as advertised is a note about "Bleacher Report elements including highlights and notable performances from past Super Bowls, game perspective and more presented by Turner Sports host Jared Greenberg." (Insert slideshow jokes here.)
This move from Turner is all about giving added respectability to the Bleacher Report brand and cementing b/r as a legitimate, household name. Rachel Nichols and Ernie Johnson aren't necessarily working for Bleacher Report, but they're adding name value and respectability to the brand that money can't buy. Turner didn't invest nine figures in the company to be relegated to slideshow jokes and slammed for producing inferior content. The CNN segments are the next step in Bleacher Report's evolution as Turner's flagship for sports.
Bleacher Report has worked hard in the last year plus to add talented, legitimate writers and change their reputation, but there will always be that negative stigma attached to the company because of their SEO gaming and infamous articles written for the site. Bringing together Turner Sports, CNN, and Bleacher Report under one umbrella and branding CNN's sports segments with the Bleacher Report name will give it new life.
What's worth watching moving forward in this partnership is just how much of Bleacher Report's identity is molded into these CNN sports segments. Will they truly bring Bleacher Report's "unique perspective" or will they be mainstream segments with little more than the Bleacher Report name attached. The continued evolution of Turner Sports and the Bleacher Report brand will determine just how transformational this partnership will be in the bigger sports media picture.