An Interesting (Positive) Trend Among Sports Content Providers

One of the great unknowns with LockerPulse was how the content providers – those actually creating the news – would respond to it. Would they love it? Hate it? Nothing it?

In my eyes, we’re doing things right. For all practical purposes, we’re simply a RSS reader, albeit one with an editorial team that selects RSS feeds for you to chose from…because most people don’t know how to or don’t want to…which is the whole point of the project. We aren’t doing any scraping of their content, which has been getting some iPad apps in trouble lately (see: Is Flipboard Legal?). We only display the content that they willingly provide for syndication (and have access to control/change on their end), and we only display full posts in the actual app itself. None of the story archives that are permanently available on our site show anything more than a quick text summary (it wasn’t always like this, more below). And of course we always provide a straight HTML link to the original source, which again, has been getting some iPad apps in trouble because linking in an app doesn’t cast a vote to the search engines like linking on the web does. We also don’t do BS links inside of an iframe like some similar sites do, which also doesn’t pass along any “google juice” to the content provider.

I personally think we’re doing no wrong. In fact, I think we’re doing those sites a service. Aside from the links, we’re sending them visitors. Anyone who reads LockerPulse regularly is constantly clicking through to articles. We also don’t block ads from our feeds, so if the content providers put ads in their feeds, the ads show in our feed reader. Win-win: we provide users with a better way to discover sports news, and by our users discovering new stories the content providers get more readers.

That said, internally we were somewhat gearing up for a shit storm (or, at least, I was). I thought for sure that very few sites would agree with my line of thinking. Especially large sites, where there’s a strategical/philosophical disconnect between the CEO, the lawyers hunting for “content theft” without fully understanding RSS, and the programmer who put RSS on the site in the first place.

So what happened? Well, it didn’t start off good. Our content providers fall in to four categories: newspapers republishing their headlines, newspaper beat writer blogs, fan blogs, and large sports blog networks. One of the larger blog networks contacted us and didn’t like our usage of their full posts, particularly in our archives, particularly with their images that they pay to license in our archives. So we adjusted and changed all archives to be the aforementioned text summaries. Live and learn. Since then we had one fan blog request that we take down their content, and we acquiesced.

However, the amount of site owners contacting us requesting that we start indexing their content has been overwhelming. I get a few per day. It’s mostly from small fan blogs, some of which are diamonds in the rough and some of which are not. Then, last week, I got this from a major newspaper and almost fell out of my seat:

We are restarting {NFL team} coverage [for the season] at {major newspaper site}. We’d really appreciate it if you could add us to your {NFL team} feed. Thanks. Here is our blog address {url}

I wrote back, told them that we’d add all of their blogs, and gave their staff free Premium Accounts. I couldn’t believe that a newspaper would think like that. I’ve become so conditioned to the old-school-media mentality from newspapers that I’ve constantly feared the worst. Really, really encouraging.

Then today, I received this from a blog network:

My name is {name}, founder of {url} and its blog network. We have blogs for every NFL team, a majority of the MLB and are working to build of NBA and NHL networks. I would like to get our sites indexed on LockerPulse. Would it be possible to send over a list of our sites and feeds?

Freaking awesome. It’s great to see the momentum going in this direction. Instead of fighting the content providers, I really want to be able to work with them. Like I said, it’s a win-win so we might as well act like we’re on the same side. Instead of arguing, I’d rather spend my time focusing on improving the overall sports reading experience for both our users, who happen to be one in the same. A few months ago I would have said that while I want to work with them, it’s probably an unrealistic thought. Now, the future is looking very bright. There’s potential for exclusive content or advertising share deals or lots of other stuff that previously we didn’t consider because we thought it to be unrealistic. To help even further with all of this, we will shortly be adding a “publishers” page to the site listing the benefits of being on LockerPulse, how to request your site be added, and also how to request your site be removed.

Big picture, we’re a few weeks away from adding a massive number of new sources, and maybe a month away from rolling out our polished version of the site that we’re going to start aggressively marketing (i.e. taking it out of our “public beta that we’re not calling a beta“). Exciting times ahead.

8 comments on An Interesting (Positive) Trend Among Sports Content Providers

  1. Jakob says:

    Dude that is awesome! It just hit me, you’ve created the Bloomberg Terminal for sports.

    New features that come to mind are endless: scores, detailed stats, charting, fantasy league, betting. Just like what a trader does through his Bloomberg Terminal.

  2. Anthony says:

    That’s a great report Adam. It’s amazing to see such a young service gaining that type of support and traction. Keep up the good work!

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks Anthony. Especially in the first few months, it’s encouraging to have some positive trends like this. It’s so easy to lose hope in the early stages of a project when the revenue doesn’t match the work put in, so from the standpoint of keeping excited and motivated stuff like this goes a long way.

  3. Neville says:

    Awesome!

    I know it may not be shareable, but it’d be cool to hear about the traffic LP is getting.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      It’s still not our #1 most trafficked site, although hopefully by the end of the year it will be πŸ™‚

  4. […] that depends very much on the “link economy” of Google and therefore the browser, as outlined in my last post, and DetailedImage, an e-commerce store that might actually be less dependent on the browser, but […]

  5. Rob says:

    Congratulations! I’m really pleased to hear you’re getting such a positive response πŸ™‚

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