Barstool JR – The SF Weekly just published a massive piece about the Borg-like rise of Bleacher Report, and it is a doozy. The Weekly’s Joe Eskenazi talked to a host of former and current writers, editors, and columnists to try and figure out how Bleacher Report became the third-most-read sports site in the world, a valuable enough property that Turner was willing to pay $175 million for it. What he discovered is the reductio of journalism’s very worst absurdum.
Aside from its legion of unpaid writers running on a legion of hamster wheels, Bleacher Report’s greatest strength is its ability to reverse-engineer stories based on data gathered by an “analytics team.”
One of the great ironies of Bleacher Report is that a site essentially founded on the mantra “for the fans” operates via an extremely regimented, top-down system. While nearly every major publication now has an SEO maven on board, Bleacher Report employs an entire analytics team to comb through reams of data, determining who wants to read what, and when, at an almost granular level. In this way, the site can determine the ideal times to post certain types of stories — thus meeting a demand that doesn’t yet exist, but will.
Reverse-engineering content to fit a pre-written headline is a Bleacher Report staple. “The analytics team basically says, ‘Hey, we think this is going to be trending, these eight to 10 terms will be trending in the next couple of days,’” says a former editor for the site. “We say thank you, and we as editors come up with the headlines and pass those on to writers to write the content.”
If you don’t want to read a blog of me sucking my own dick I wouldn’t read any further. Because this article is why everybody should be proud to call themselves a Stoolie. It’s also why I laugh whenever the peanut gallery complains about ads and says I sold out. We are the exact polar opposite of everything that Deadspin just lamented about Bleacher Report and basically the entire internet. The exact polar opposite. You know how Deadspin said nearly every major publication now has a SEO maven on board, but Bleacher Report has an entire team dedicated to cooking the numbers? Well not only do we not have a SEO guy, but I literally just found out what the term even means last week. That’s how ass backwards we are. As a result we rarely get linked to. We rarely get credit for breaking stories. You can google something we wrote verbatim and it won’t show up in search results.
Yet despite all this our traffic is enormous. Why? Because we’ve always worked with the same philosophy from day 1 with Barstool. Be funnier and work harder than everybody else and everything will take care of itself. That’s why we don’t hire hacks. (Cue the Neil jokes) We don’t use free writers who suck. Everybody gets paid. It’s full time writers from day 1. In fact every good writer in the world should want to work for us. We give you free reign to do whatever the fuck you want to do and we pay good money for it. Just write from the heart. That’s why the people who read Barstool come back day after day after day. Because our content is better than everybody elses. The superblog is the best page on the Internet period. No tricks. No smoke and mirrors. We are a destination site. We aren’t some random link that people stumble upon and don’t even know how they ended there which is like 99% of the sites out there Bleacher Report included.
We are a content company that truly cares about the quality of the content. That’s why when ad agencies tell me I need to tone down our language and point to all the other sites that complied I literally tell them to go fuck themselves. I will never sacrifice our content for money. That’s what makes us different. Sure Bleacher Report may be worth 175 million, but we are 1 billion times more influential. It’s the old TV analogy. If somebody is watching television and just clicks on every channel on the dial for 1 second that counts as 1 visitor for every station. That’s how Bleacher Report gets it’s numbers. But our guys stay and watch the entire hour program. Yes it still counts as 1 visitor for each site, but one group is actually loyal and real. That’s why we can put 6,000 people in a room like we did at the DCU center. You think Bleacher Report could put 100 people in a room for anything? Of course not. Can any website besides us do that? Nope. And the reason is because when we say we have 4 million unique visitors a month that is 4 million fans not 4 million fake clicks. It’s organic. It’s real. It’s been built grass roots. I always say we are the most influential smut blog on the planet and we are. We ain’t fancy. We ain’t pretty. We don’t know what SEO means. We swear a lot. But we don’t use algorithms and parlor tricks to get readers. We’re the real fucking McCoy.
PS – I don’t think I’m going to read the comments section on this blog because I don’t have time to get in fights with people right now. I’ll just assume a couple people said they wish Hitler stuck me in an oven and leave it at that.