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Becoming The Bleacher Report

Becoming the Bleacher Report
"Do not go into media if you do not have very thick skin"

Why The Bleacher Report?

Bleacher report is a premier digital destination for millions of sports fans where they can create, collaborate and celebrate the sports they love – Basketball, Golf, football, you name it. It is a modern blogging platform made for the sports lovers by the sports lovers.

Though they’re not a bootstrapped publisher and has been raising funds for years, we decided to cover their story because of two reasons.

– They were born and raised in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis. It’s not easy to raise funds and continually build a community when the market is collapsing.

– The uphill battle faced by the publisher, especially against the likes of ESPN, NBC, etc. is dramatic. This means we all can bag a lot of lessons from it.

Let’s get into the report.

How it all started?

It’s convenient to look at the obvious-side of the publisher and say, ‘well they’ve been acquired by the TBS (Turner Broadcasting Systems) and so, they can get $100 million just to do social media distribution’.

The truth remains the same for all. The Bleacher Report has started its website (to be frank, a blog) back in 2007 with no prior online presence and followers. Four friends (who are, of course, sports fans) found it difficult to raise their voices and keep up with like-minded fans. After college, they decided to build a product to solve the pain point – Bleacher Report. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Bleacher Report Revenue and Traffic 2008

When they launched in beta, supposedly around 2006, they were able to attract 400,000 visitors. If you’re wondering how they did it, we would say the answer in just a word – Community.

As obvious it seems, sports websites rely on fans and followers. Don’t you think the audience will get excited when they are given a platform to critique and discuss with each other online?

That being said, the growth wasn’t easy at all. Think about maintaining content-quality when there are millions of contributors. In fact, thousands of editors worked round the clock to ensure the veracity of the information. On top of that, the pressure and criticism from the top media outlets was deflating, to say the least.

Where they are today?

Bleacher Report is among the world’s top 10 sports websites, reaching 250+ million users across the globe. While there are hundreds of other user-generated sport content websites out there, BleacherReport stands out against them due to their partnerships with CBS, the LA Times, and other large regional and national media outlets. These sites attract millennial visitors every day and direct them to the bleacherreport.com.

The Bleacher Report Traffic and Revenue 2018

The million visitors essentially mean impressive advertising revenues. The president, Rory Brown said that the company has increased its revenue by 17% YOY in 2017 and is profitable.

Bleacher Report has made constant efforts to grow revenue through non-traditional, integrated marketing and promotional programs with advertisers and agencies.

Their brand strategies and sales are driven by the momentum of building audience-based advertising campaigns.

To name a few,

Bleacher Report unveiled a new multi-platform campaign earlier this year, “Up Your Game,” highlighting the brand’s growing influence on sports and culture. The campaign illustrated how Bleacher Report goes beyond the one-dimensional point-of-view of traditional sports and taps into new ways to drive deeper connections with fans. Through this strategy, Bleacher Report has seen tremendous growth in its audiences (Src).

Another great example would be the B/R Entertainment division’s animated series “Game of Zones”. The series received 40 million views and landed AT&T as an ad sponsor.

Becoming the Bleacher Report

The Genesis

2007

Bleacher Report was founded in 2007 by Alexander Freund, Dave Nemetz,  David Finocchio and Bryan Goldberg. It HQ’ed in San Francisco, with offices in New York City and London. Since the Bleacher Report was founded, it has participated in 5 rounds of funding, raising a total of $40 million (from Crunchbase).

So, any publisher (not just you) will be surprised to hear four young graduates secured millions of funding to run a media company. Bryan Goldberg, co-founder might be the reason.

“It [The Bleacher Report] was sketched based on the business plans I had learned about. I had taken competitive strategy in college, a sort of pre-MBA course for what was supposed to be a very pre-MBA life. We had a four- or five-page business plan with competitive advantage and differentiation.”

– Bryan Goldberg, Co-founder, Bleacher Report(Src).

Cash Flow and Growth

2008

In 2008 Bleacher Report completed a round of  Series A securing $1.5 million from Hillsven Capital, Transcoast Capital, and Jakob Lodwick (the founder of Vimeo), among others on the occasion of its public launch in February.

As they’ve shown promising results and potential to earn revenue through its beta stage, investors are convinced with the platform.

Eight months later, Bleacher Report secured another $3.5 million in Series B funding from Hillsven, Gordon Crawford, and SoftTech VC in the month of October.

You can consider Series B as a reward for the growth they’ve generated. In just 8 months, the publisher has grown their visitors by 300% to reach 2 million unique visitors per month. By October, 400 articles were published every day by 7000+ writers. The page views were through the roof as you have guessed.

And, that’s not all. If you’re in San Francisco around 2007 – 2008 period, it was quite easy to meet people and discuss ideas. The community was small yet influential.

While they were backed by the growing community, they needed to be more than a media outlet to woo investors.

You had to say, “This is about tech.” You always have to begin every VC pitch by saying, “Oh, we’re not a media company. This isn’t about advertising. This is about technology.” Which was complete bulls—. But you know what? It got the job done, and you have to live one day at a time.

– Bryan Goldberg, Bleacher Report.

However, B/R was half-right. They just didn’t publish content. They were building a platform to assist and allow the sports community to thrive online. You’ll accept the statement later when you see acquisition by the publisher.  

Automatad Team

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