ESPN Huddles Up With 20 College Football Fan Sites

By Carolyn Braff

In its continuing effort to expand distribution at all levels, ESPN has taken a grassroots step, announcing a content-integration agreement with 20 college football fan sites. As newly minted members of the TEAM Sports Network, the integrated member sites will be able to syndicate ESPN content, while ESPN.com has the opportunity to use content from each fan site throughout the ESPN digital network.

“We’ve been talking to teams for the past couple of years,” explains Marc Horine, VP of digital partnerships and sales development for ESPN. “We had a deal in place where we’d been sharing content with some schools, so we wanted to expand the relationship to encompass more Websites.”

The TEAM Sports Network now includes some of the most popular college football fan sites on the Web, including Ohio State’s bucknuts.com, University of Texas’s InsideTexas.com, and USC’s WeAreSC.com. Each site will still operate independently, but a banner at the top indicates that the site is now affiliated with ESPN.

“There’s a lot of great content out there, and we can’t cover every team as in-depth as these sites that are dedicated to these big-time college football programs can,” Horine says. “We think their content is top-notch, and we’d like to get our content out to as many sports fans as possible, so we thought it was the right deal to make.”

ESPN’s editorial team will decide which content from each of the fan sites will be distributed on ESPN.com. The fan sites will have the opportunity to syndicate ESPN video content, as presented through the ESPN.com video player, and vice versa, with TEAM Sports Network video presented on ESPN.com where appropriate. There is currently no advertising arrangement in place between ESPN.com sponsors and the TEAM Sports Network sites.

“It’s a work in progress,” Horine explains. “We see this as another distribution platform for ESPN.com to reach college sports fans. We’re hoping that TEAM continues to grow their network of fan sites. They’ve done a great job of growing their business, so we’re going to continue to look to them to continue to help grow our distribution.”

The newly affiliated sites:
Alabama (CrimsonConfidential.com)
Arizona (Wildcatsportsreport.com)
Auburn (AuburnUndercover.com)
California (BearInsider.com)
Florida (GatorCountry.com)
Florida State (NoleInsider.com)
Georgia (TotalUGA.com)
Kentucky (Kentuckyink.com)
LSU (TigerGumbo.com)
Miami (InsideTheU.com)
Mississippi State (Bulldawgjunction.com)
Ohio State (Bucknuts.com)
Oklahoma (OUInsider.com)
Ole Miss (InsideTheGrove.com)
Penn State (NittanyNetwork.com)
South Carolina (TheBigSpur.com)
Tennessee (VolNation.com)
Texas (InsideTexas.com)
Texas A&M (TexAgs.com)
USC (WeAreSC.com)