One of the most widely discussed recent events in the online realm has been Turner's acquisition of Bleacher Report. The marriage of a mainstream company with a decidedly new school (and yes, certainly polarizing) portal like Bleacher Report is a landscape-altering transformation for the online sports world. The total impact of the Turner-b/r marriage is unknown this early in the process, but you're beginning to see signs of its implementation. I quite frankly never thought I'd live long enough to hear Marv Albert read promotional spots for Bleacher Report during NBA on TNT games, but alas, here we are.
Another element to Turner's acquisition of Bleacher Report is the partnerships within Turner and Time Warner and more specifically, Sports Illustrated's lengthy relationship with CNN. Beginning in February, CNN's sports content will be provided by Bleacher Report instead of Sports Illustrated. If you go to CNN.com and try to access Sports Illustrated, you are met with this page telling you CNN Sports is changing soon. Visitors are informed of the following:
"Starting in February, CNN Sports will be provided by Bleacher Report.
Bleacher Report is on a mission to revolutionize the way fans learn, think, and talk about their favorite teams. Bleacher Report brings an entertaining experience to every sports consumer where a vibrant community of knowledgeable peers provides insights to everyone who has a passion for sports.
Fans looking for Sports Illustrated.com should bookmark the site to continue to get their favorites."
The relationship between CNN and SI is well established. The pair launched a 24/7 sports television network in 1996, CNN/SI, that lasted until 2002. The Sports Illustrated website has been CNN's sports outlet for many years (the URL sportsillustrated.cnn.com still takes you to SI) and in 2010, Time Warner consolidated Turner Sports and Sports Illustrated. However, the full-blown Turner/SI partnership never panned out and it ended soon after. All Things D noted neither side was ever truly happy with the arranged marriage.
The corporate structure is a bit complicated, but the Time Warner conglomerate owns both Turner Broadcasting and Time Inc. Sports Illustrated falls under the Time umbrella while Turner Sports and CNN fall under Turner Broadcasting. Both sides though are part of the larger Time Warner family. When Turner's partnership with SI.com ended, they quickly acquired Bleacher Report, which is now part of Turner Sports.
To summarize, it no longer makes sense for CNN to be linked with Sports Illustrated (Turner-Time Warner) instead of Bleacher Report (both Turner Broadacsting properties). Given the history of the CNN/SI network and their lengthy online partnership, this is a huge transformation and the end of an era. Case in point, after Monday night's national championship game, Alabama's victory was CNN.com's featured story.
Where did the "full story" link to? A Bleacher Report article that listed tweets from the likes of Not Bill Walton, LeBron James, and Kate Upton. Already, that b/r article has over 130k views as of Tuesday morning.
We reached out to Turner for comment on the shift taking place at CNN. While their relationship with Sports Illustrated isn't coming to a total end, the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader in News" is going forward with Bleacher Report as "the source for CNN.com's sports coverage"...
"While CNN.com and SI.com will continue to look for ways to develop potential multiplatform content strategies for consumers, league partners and advertisers, Bleacher Report will soon become the source for CNN.com's sports coverage. In August 2012, Turner Broadcasting acquired Bleacher Report because it adds a strong and complementary asset to Turner's portfolio of leading brands and businesses. Pairing the site’s multi-sport expertise and unique approach to sports coverage with CNN.com, the leading choice for digital news consumers, is a natural fit that will enhance the multi-perspective reporting that CNN users have come to expect. Since the acquisition, we have been working on the strategic integration of Bleacher Report with the other leading brands within our portfolio, and this illustrates the first step in that process."
This is a sea change in the industry. CNN, one of the most famous names in all of broadcasting, is moving forward with a totally new perspective from Bleacher Report. While what's happening at CNN.com is certainly newsworthy, it's just the beginning of the larger scale integration of Bleacher Report across Turner Broadcasting. Turner also added that their sports department and Sports Illustrated "are always looking for ways to further work together" in spite of CNN's embracing of Bleacher Report at the apparent expense of SI.
In truth, you couldn't have two more opposing poles of the sports media than Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report. The old and the new, representatives of the print and digital age, etc. This tectonic shift taking place at CNN.com and the beginning stages of Bleacher Report's integration with Turner Sports is symbolic of the sports media world as a whole at the current moment. CNN.com's imminent change of course from Sports Illustrated to Bleacher Report may just be the biggest sign of all that the sports world has gone digital and entered a new age.
I just had to find a place to bitch about this. CNN, TBR just plain sucks and I want my old SI back. They have taken the journalism out of sports reporting and replaced it with slideshows. Is this just more instance of the dumbing down of America? Did their market research tell them that their target audience wants pictures instead of words? Don't get me wrong, there are times where a video clip of something exceptional is the best way to allow us to relive the moment. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words wasn't meant to be taken completely literally. That adage meant that when you can't trust what someone is telling you a picture can reveal the truth. I like to hear opinions and be educated about aspects of sports that I don't know and that doesn't come from a slideshow.
Maybe I'm just getting old. I'm 51 and a technology freak Heck, I started programming computers in 1981 and got my first PC in 1984. I'm not opposed to watching the world change but this one I just don't get. When my son was an adolescent we bought him books with pictures to learn from. As he grew older we bought him books with words. Now that he's an adult - he's a target market - it's back to learning from pictures again.
Is it just me or does this seem backwards? Bring me back my SI and let USA Today have TBR. Their business model is all about giving people a quick 'byte' of information. The rest of us may want a little more.
Bleacher Report reminds of ESPN magazine, which I also don't like. BR blogs/tweets (they aren't real articles)s on college football for example cannot compare to real articles written by Andy Staples or Stewart Mandel. I have tried BR and usually look at the titles, see crap, and go straight to SI.com.
I'm not even basing this on being uncomfortable with something new. While SI wasn't the greatest, Bleacher just plain sucks. Bad layout, hard to follow, more pictures than text, and who are these unknown sports writers... Bad move CNN
CNN, now I'm done, I love SI dot com and will not be following the posers at Bleacher.
You just replaced a very good service with bs
I'm not even sure what to write here, this is a horrible idea on so many levels. I guess CNN got tired of attracting an educated reader looking for news/facts, and instead is listening to some overpaid marketing firm telling them about how the Bleacher Report is linked to Social Media (I'm sure they drooled at hearing that buzzword). Congrats CNN Sports, the mean age of your readership probably just declined by 25 years, and it's likely that in 25 days they'll all have moved on to the next big thing. Goodbye.
On a day when career professional sportswriters faced the most talented MLB HoF ballot since 1936 and crapped all over it, I say it's high time to say goodbye to career professional sportswriters.
This is an interesting move by CNN. I've been concerned by the proliferation of crowd-sourced news, which is why I built @RECAPP (http://recapp.me). It's a mobile app that only sources news about your favorite teams/sports from high-quality syndicated sources and journalists. We've already filtered out the amateur content so users don't have to.
Why are people visiting CNN for sports stories anyway? There are much more better sport-specific sites available.
A sad day for capitalism and a sad day for journalism. It's painful to read to this article knowing what these 3 companies stand for.
On AA's facebook page, they compared this to an aging Hollywood star getting a divorce and remarrying a younger woman. That is true if the younger woman is the bubble-headed bleach-blonde who does nothing productive and sponges your money while she lays around the house looking pretty and shopping with your credit cards. Now if CNN had partnered with SB Nation, it would have been the same aging Hollywood star getting a divorce and remarrying the thirty-something up-and-coming CEO of a company that she started in her basement and made a fortune on.
If you told me that B/R was going to become the sports portal for a larger site, I'd expect it to be one that itself thrived on crowdsourced reporting, not an actual alleged professional journalistic enterprise. Big statement on the state of journalism.
Bleacher Report is vapid and pointless. Since that is the direction CNN has been going lately, seems like a perfect fit.
Bobby's probably right regarding integrity. Only time will tell if CNN is "Jumping the Shark" or "Growing the Beard" regarding revenue.
B/R's baseball coverage is a nightmare. They couldn't possibly know less about what they are talking about.
"In truth, you couldn't have two more opposing poles of the sports media than Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report."
Yeah, one is full of fantastic writers and the best editorial content of any sports site, IMO, while the other is nothing but slideshows and anecdotes from people without any of the insight or access SI has. Dumb CNN.
Do think think this partnership will in any way fundamentally change B/R's model? Will the increase in money and credibility from CNN lead them to try to poach away writers, or maybe increase the amount of semi-paid positions to the B/R legions?
Part of what's interesting about this is how much SI has kind of been partnering its brand with the various new NBC Sports properties (TV and radio). Makes you wonder if there's some higher-level agreements or something afoot.
@sean donaldson Isn't this what you get with capitalism? Maximize profits over content and quality?
@SeanMichaelReynolds @sean donaldson The most important property a business has is their brand name. Tarnish the brand name and you don't get sales. If their relationship with B/R tarnishes CNN's brand name, then their sports department may never recover credibility and a media outlet without credibility is valueless. Can a poor personal decision tarnish a company's brand name to the point of economic damage? Why don't we ask the Komen Foundation or Chick-fil-A or Papa John's that.