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Yahoo! Sports Spins Off Online Magazine

Posted by Barry Silverstein on January 12, 2011 02:30 PM

With all the hoopla surrounding Google, it's easy to overlook Yahoo!

While Yahoo! has faced its share of challenges of late, including failed mergers and layoffs, the portal's Yahoo! Sports division has done very nicely, building up an audience of some 50 million visitors, reports the New York Times. In fact, Yahoo! Sports is the leading sports site, scoring over 52 million unique visitors last month, according to the Internet measurement firm comScore.

Now Yahoo! Sports is leveraging that audience and hoping to grow it even more with this week's launch of a new online magazine that will publish on a daily basis. ThePostGame is a joint venture between Yahoo and a social networking and blogging site, SportsFanLive.com, which has about six million visitors. 

Why spin off an online brand when Yahoo! Sports is already winning the battle for eyeballs?

Yahoo executive editor Dave Morgan tells the Times, "This is the logical evolution of Yahoo! Sports. ... We're a destination and we don't have a TV network. ... Yahoo! is very much about what's going on right now in sports. A magazine can give a greater shelf life to the breadth of content we have and the talent on our roster."

David Katz, chief executive of SportsFanLive, adds, "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. 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. ... It's our job to rearchitect the sports magazine for the Internet generation."

There is a lot of truth to Katz's comments. After all, traditional magazines such as Sport and Inside Sports are gone, leaving a giant like Sports Illustrated as one of the few sports magazines remaining in print.

Even Sports Illustrated has migrated to SI.com, which includes content that goes beyond the print edition. ESPN, which publishes its own print magazine, ESPN The Magazine, has an extensive online operation anchored by ESPN.com  As evidenced at the recent CES show, the post-iPad tablet market is exploding, presenting even more opportunity for online magazines to thrive.

Morgan says ThePostGame brand will provide a platform for "long-form stories or short hits," something that Yahoo! Sports doesn't feature right now. He hopes to showcase staff writers, some of whom are authors of books used to writing longer stories. "This will broaden what they are uniquely capable of doing," says Morgan.

A look at today's issue suggests the digital magazine will feature a combination of non-traditional stories ("Tom Brady's Guru"), celebrity chatter (a Q&A with actress Elizabeth Banks), sports news, blogs, and other content for sports fanatics. As much as 90% of the content will be original.

ThePostGame is one positive indication, at least, that Yahoo! hasn't given up the game.

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