|Owner||Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner)|
|Slogan(s)||Covering your teams better than anyone else.|
|Alexa rank||332; 88: United States (July 2015)|
Bleacher Report (often abbreviated as B/R) a San Francisco-based sports news website owned by the Turner Sports unit of Time Warner. The website focuses on trending topics in sports, with an emphasis on delivering opinion-oriented analysis and multimedia programming via varied content formats and mobile technologies.
Bleacher Report was acquired by the Turner Broadcasting System in August 2012 for $170 million.
Bleacher Report was founded in 2007 by David Finocchio, Alexander Freund, Bryan Goldberg, and David Nemetz — four friends and sports fans who had been high school classmates at Menlo School in Atherton, California.
Under the Turner corporate umbrella, Finocchio remains at Bleacher Report as the unit's CEO. Goldberg and Nemetz transitioned out of their respective VP roles during the integration process. Freund left the company in 2009.
Bleacher Report announced the completion of a round of Series A funding on the occasion of its public launch in February 2008. The undisclosed sum came from Hillsven Capital, Transcoast Capital, and Vimeo founder Jakob Lodwick.
Eight months later, in October 2008, Bleacher Report secured $3.5 million in Series B funding from Hillsven, Gordon Crawford, and SoftTech VC. A Series C round in December 2010, led by Crosslink Capital, netted an additional $10.5 million.
In August 2011, the company announced a $22 million growth round led by Oak Investment Partners, with participation from Crosslink and Hillsven. At the time, Oak general partner Fred Harman, a board member at both the The Huffington Post and Demand Media, characterized the investment as a bet on Bleacher Report's ability to keep pace with real-time fan interest across all forms of social media.
In the first year of Grey's tenure, Bleacher Report filled two more executive-level positions, adding Rich Calacci as Chief Revenue Officer and Drew Atherton as Chief Financial Officer. Calacci joined the company in May 2011; Atherton followed a month later in June.
Calacci had previously served as CBS Interactive's Senior VP of Sales. Atherton's most recent experience had been at Demand Media, where he was COO and CFO of the company's registrar services division.
Bleacher Report's sale to TBS was announced on August 6, 2012. Under the terms of the deal, Grey, Finocchio, Calacci, and CTO Sam Parnell all assumed official Turner Sports titles while retaining their management responsibilities at Bleacher Report.
In a press release announcing the purchase, Turner president of sales, distribution, and sports David Levy cited the site's rapid growth and loyal user base as key factors in his company's decision to make a deal—and also alluded to the potential value of Bleacher Report's multimedia platform as an outlet for Turner's various video resources:
As part of the integration process, Atherton's CFO responsibilities were assumed by Turner corporate in February 2013, and Grey stepped down from the CEO position in October 2013. Since Grey's departure, Finocchio has headed Bleacher Report.
Forbes.com called Bleacher Report "one of the leaders" among sports startups "figuring out the digital space" in August 2011, noting the company's success in "providing publishing tools to all sorts of knowledgeable sports fans to report and express what they know." Bleacher Report was also named one of Time magazine's "50 Best Websites of 2011," and was picked by Adweek readers as 2011's "Best Sports Media Brand."
Early criticism of Bleacher Report stemmed from the network's initial commitment to an open publishing model. Such critiques cited the fact that all registered users on the website were permitted to publish articles on the site, arguing that Bleacher Reports policy resulted in a glut of low-quality content, which made it difficult for the network's readers to find credible coverage of their favorite teams and sports. It was also argued that the model tarnished the reputation of every writer associated with the Bleacher Report brand, which made it difficult for the network's more talented contributors to build loyal audiences, and that it empowered unqualified writers without editorial oversight, which compromised the prestige and credibility of the sportswriting profession. SB Nation Senior MMA editor Luke Thomas described it as the "Walmart of Journalism" and it's MMA coverage "toothless amateur coverage".
Since abandoning the content farm model in 2010, Bleacher Report has been the subject of continued criticism for its exploitation of unpaid contributors, its blanket policy prohibiting writers from breaking their own news, and its high-volume production of low-quality, search-optimized slideshow content. These critiques found their strongest voice to date in an October 2012 SF Weekly article, in which tech columnist and entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa was quoted accusing Bleacher Report of "dumbing down of the web" with "custom-manufactured garbage." In December 2012, a lampoon article in The Onion played on the same themes. In July 2014, Deadspin published a lengthy narrative written by Tom Schreier - a former Bleacher Report featured columnist. Detailing his journey from hopeful intern to "just one more drone pumping content to get clicked on," in three years, Schreier "wrote over 500 articles, generated nearly three million page views, and received $200 for [his] services."
Bleacher Report attempted to address the concerns of its early critics by making substantive reforms to its editorial and personnel policies in 2010 and 2011. These reforms were aimed chiefly at the mechanics of Bleacher Report's Writer Program, with emphasis on enhancing quality and credibility by doing the following:
- Initiating a formal application process for all prospective writers, wherein only the top 20 percent of candidates earn the right to publish on the site.
- Introducing educational resources for new and veteran writers, including the "B/R U" new-media training program.
- Establishing a paid team of Lead Writers to headline the network's sport-specific writer communities.
Although some detractors likened such changes "to spritzing a little room deodorizer after leaving a steaming deposit in the toilet and failing to flush," apart from a published rebuttal disputing the objectivity and accuracy of the October 2012 SF Weekly article, Bleacher Report has not mounted a substantive response to ongoing criticism of its contributor compensation structure, news-breaking policy, or search-optimization strategies.
In 2013, Bleacher Report hired Mike Freeman as a columnist from CBSSports.com. They then brought on National Basketball Association (NBA) reporter Howard Beck from the New York Times. He was convinced by Bleacher Report that they were on the verge of transforming its website. In addition to Beck becoming their lead NBA writer, Bleacher Report also added Ethan Skolnick from The Palm Beach Post to report on the Miami Heat, Kevin Ding of Orange County Register to cover the Los Angeles Lakers, and Jared Zwerling from ESPN to pen NBA features.
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