Three-year-old Bleacher Report is gaining major headway in the world of online sports news. Last year, it hired Brian Grey (who used to run Yahoo Sports’ and Fox Sports’ sites), increased its sales staff, hired a professional editorial team, raised $10 million in funding, and passed established competitors Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports in traffic.
Now, the site—which boasts more than 7,000 U.S. contributors—is getting yet another boost, TechCrunch reports. Yesterday, it announced a $22 million growth round led by Oak Investment Partners, with participation from existing investors Crosslink Capital and Hillsven Capital. Oak general partner Fred Harman, an early backer of Huffington Post and Demand Media, will also join the board.
“Sports is a big opportunity and no one has gotten it right yet,” Harman said. “I’d argue Bleacher Report has done a far better job of embracing the capabilities of the online medium than the big sports name brands have.”
The site wasn’t planning on raising money for another six months, said Grey, but it was expanding so rapidly—year-over-year page views are up 150 percent, time on site is up 50 percent, and unique visits are up 75 percent—that they decided to pull the trigger ahead of schedule.
The investment will go towards building the company, according to TechCrunch. Some of the money will go towards expanding the site’s sales team, hiring some of its unpaid contributors, and reinvesting in the technology of the platform. The site is also working on adding more video and developing mobile apps and games, and is considering moving beyond sports and possibly into international markets.