Yahoo Starting Online Sports Magazine. Why?!

There has been a lot of buzz in the past few months about the Internet space. From Google search result moves to Facebook Places and the growing “Groupon Effect”, the innovation and change in the online space is happening at a pace that gives most Internet marketers fits.

Another part of the equation is still what are the other guys like bing and Yahoo up to these days? We know about the union on the search side. We know that bing is ‘innovating’ and has increased search share slightly (once again please nudge me when the combined Yahoo/bing search alliance hits 40 percent share). When it comes to Yahoo, however, the news usually is about layoffs or product funerals.

Well, what would you do to cure the ills of the once high-flying Yahoo brand? I suspect it wouldn’t be getting into the online magazine business but guess what? That’s what they are doing. And it’s in the sports space which doesn’t have nearly enough media coverage these days does it?

The New York Times reports

Yahoo Sports has built an audience of more than 50 million visitors on news, commentary and fantasy games. Now it is shifting gears with a product extension: an online magazine.

Starting Tuesday night, Yahoo’s sports division and SportsFanLive.com, a social networking and blogging site, will start producing ThePostGame.com, a daily magazine that will publish lengthy articles (and 140-word rants), and reports on athlete style, sports technology, travel, fitness and betting lines. It will also be packed with blogs from its partners, Twitter messages from athletes and polls.

Not only is this new online publication going to challenge the likes of Sports Illustrated’s SI.com and the entire ESPN family of way too much sports all the time (even for this sports fan) but it’s going to be done daily.

If there was ever a sign that Yahoo is no longer a search player and is playing the ‘create as much content as you can game’ which includes the Associated Content family of content farmers, this is it.

With the Internet being a great opportunity for niche content that could have real appeal to smaller and very influential groups, Yahoo goes elephant hunting in the incredibly crowded sports space instead. I wish them well but I don’t get it.

Here’s more of Yahoo’s side of the story

“We all know that the print world is challenged and that the form, structure and delivery of magazines in the print form are quickly becoming anachronistic,” said David Katz, the chief executive of SportsFanLive, which began in 2008. “But the purpose they were meant to serve — the long stories and the context that they gave in the sports landscape — is still very much needed.”

He added, “It’s our job to rearchitect the sports magazine for the Internet generation.”

Huh? Longer stories for sports fans in the age of tweeting athletes and a million made for TV college bowl games? Capturing the attention of most sports fans for more than a nano-second to read is ‘miracle worker’ stuff but Yahoo is going for long stories and context? I hope there are a lot of pictures.

Well, one thing I will say is that the article that caught my eye in today’s issue was “Actress Elizabeth Banks Talks Sports”. Really?! This is it? As the folks at ESPN might say “C’mon, man!”

Now to its credit

According to comScore, which measures Internet traffic, Yahoo is the top sports site, with 52.1 million unique visitors last month. SportsFanLive has 6 million visitors, Katz said.

“We’re a destination,” Dave Morgan (Yahoo’s executive editor of North American audiences) said of Yahoo Sports, “and we don’t have a TV network.”

OK, I got that but I have been a pretty significant sports fan for my entire life and I never turn to Yahoo for my sports news unless someone else has picked them up. What sports fans are we talking about? The soccer crowd?

The question begs whether Yahoo is just looking for places to put the vast amount of content it is hell bent on creating. We get assurances from the Yahoo team that this is not so.

Katz and Morgan said the new venture is not a mass migration of the type of articles that were not exposed well on Yahoo Sports, but a platform where 90 percent of the content will be original.

“Our writers want to say something in forms that doesn’t really exist on Yahoo Sports, whether it’s really long-form stories or short hits,” said Morgan, a former deputy sports editor at The Los Angeles Times. “This will have the tools to let them participate.”

Well, that’s nice that the writers have something to do but will anybody care enough or make the time to read what they are saying?

Overall, this kind of activity continues to show that Yahoo is a relatively rudderless ship with little or no direction or vision. As these disparate content entities start to crop up and just slap the Yahoo logo on themselves, the confusion around what Yahoo does for a living (but still generates some nice cash doing it!) will only increase.

So what’s your take on Yahoo? Is it your choice for sports news now? What is it your choice for these days? If it wasn’t for the ancient Yahoo e-mail address I still maintain I wouldn’t go there but that’s just me.

What about you?

  • Sean

    I’ve been using Yahoo Sports for years. Once they acquired Rivals.com and picked up Michael Silver, they just got more useful. They have more interesting content than ESPN.com. Definitely the best, most complete sports site on the net.

    • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

      @Sean – Well there you go! That is good to hear. It’s very funny that I just forwarded a Yahoo Sports article to a friend a few minutes ago. Maybe I was too rough on them? Nah. It is interesting to see though.

      Did an article about Elizabeth Banks’ take on sports interest you though?

  • Scofield

    Yahoo! Sports really does have a stable of the best sports writers in just about every sport. They are syndicated and constantly picked up by other outlets (as you mention) and they’re respected amongst their sports mdia peers. The folks at SI and ESPN definitely consider Yahoo! Sports their competitors …

    The Yahoo! Sports blogs are probably the most interesting collection of sports blogs anywhere on the web.

    I agree that some of the stories on ThePostGame might be a little long for your average sports fan, but I think the integration of the tweets, lists and blogs into the site will offset that.

    Yahoo! Sports is really the sparkling jewel on the rusting crown of Yahoo!

    I think this is a smart move on their part to further set themselves apart from SI and ESPN, online.

    Good for them.

    Plus, while Yahoo! Sports might not do “broadcast,” they definitely have regularly produced orignal shows for the web like the Yahoo! Sports minute with Angela Sun, and the Emmy® nominated Fantasy Football Live.

    Plus, with the emergence and success of Yahoo! Connected TV (combined with talent of the Yahoo! Sports experts), I wouldn’t be surprised if Yahoo! Sports ended up as it’s own tv network someday.

    Just my 2 cents.