The four founders from several years back
Following months of speculation that a deal was imminent, Turner Broadcasting has pulled the trigger on a reported $175 million acquisition of online sports portal Bleacher Report. The deal does not include the $20 million in cash the company still had which will go straight back to investors and essentially pushes the transaction to somewhere near the $195 million neighborhood.
In terms of an online sports exit, the sale price is the highest the industry has seen nearly doubling the reported $100 million sale of Rivals to Yahoo in 2007. Eric Fisher from Sports Business Journal did point out that Rivals achieved their exit requiring far less capital, as Bleacher Report had been funded to the tune of $40 million.
There has been a lot of coverage of the liquidity event although a lot of it just piggybacks off of the press release. I thought Matthew Ingram on Gigaom had a pretty solid take while Sarah Lacey took some flack from Jamie Mottram, myself, and others for her write-up and labeling of Bleacher Report as a blog. Lacey's article also has a passionate defense of Bleacher Report by one of it's founders responding to criticism in the comment section. It's a solid read that ends with a pretty bold statement saying, "You can have whatever opinion of Bleacher Report you want, but facts are facts. We are the new challenger to ESPN's crown, and I like our odds."
However, one thing that struck me is that there wasn't a lot of analysis on the move and given how many people are talking about and asking me about it, I've decided to dust off my sports 2.0 blogging skills and share some thoughts on the move. For those unfamiliar, I used to write about this kind of thing on benkoo.com extensively. This included a lot of coverage of Bleacher Report and other sports startups. In the past I've covered their partnership with CBS, their good standing on Google News, funding rounds, and some of their strategic pivots. I think they'd agree that I've been pretty fair to them over the years. With that said, as a disclaimer I also am the CEO of Bloguin (Awful Announcing's parent company) and there is some level of overlap here and there. Thus, my point of view probably has some bias or spin along the way, but I've tried to be as fair as possible in this analysis of Turner's acquisition of Bleacher Report.