AOL has decided to outsource its sports coverage.
The company announced a partnership with Sporting News that will see AOL’s FanHouse.com become aol.sportingnews.com. Essentially starting on March 1, Sporting News will take over all editorial and ad sales operations for AOL’s sports property. Users who click on the sports link on the AOL.com home page will be redirected to the Sporting News Web site.
For Sporting News, the deal should provide the venerable brand with an immediate traffic boost, helping it compete better with giants like Yahoo Sports and ESPN.com.
Sportingnews.com currently reaches 2.9 million unique users, according to comScore, while FanHouse.com reaches nearly 10 million unique users.
“This is the last piece of the puzzle for us,” said Jeff Price, Sporting News president and publisher. “Advertisers have told us that they love what we’ve done with our site over the past year in terms of video and social media, but they wanted reach.”
As for AOL, the company is essentially dropping sports from its mantle—which in light of the recent shutdown of several AOL properties, also brings into question CEO Tim Armstrong’s commitment to original content.
Just two years ago, AOL made a lot of noise by rebranding AOL Sports as FanHouse.com, hiring a slew of prominent sports columnists such as Jay Mariotti, Kevin Blackistone and Lisa Olson—while embracing blogs and fan commentary.
Price said that the FanHouse.com brand would be incorporated into the Sporting News site at some point, and some columnists may be retained. “We’re going to work through that,” he said. “It’s still a fluid situation. But the AOL Fanhouse brand will absolutely live on.”