Website wants to get social with American sports fans
90min is expanding its sports coverage to include popular U.S. sports like baseball, football and basketball.
Matan Har had only been in Israel a few months when he met Asaf Peled, an Israeli who had the good sense to realize that there was demand for a global, community-driven soccer website.
Har, who was born in Israel, raised in Boulder, Colorado, and then returned to Israel not long after graduating from college, agreed and became the first employee of FTBpro. That was in 2011. Last month the site, now named 90min.com, clocked 35 million unique users with Har as its vice president of growth and content. The site has offices on three continents and content in 10 different languages. A fourth office is set to open in New York early next year, as the site makes a foray into the U.S. sports market.
90min believes its Buzzfeed-style mix of socially conscious and community-driven content will be a natural fit for American sports fans, especially those of the Big 3: MLB (Major League Baseball), the NFL (National Football League) and the NBA (National Basketball Association).
Har told From The Grapevine that "it's all the traditional dinosaurs like ESPN, Fox, ABC and NBC" that dominate the American media landscape.
Another gap 90min is looking to fill is covering American sports globally in other languages.
"We want to cover the NBA in Chinese in a way nobody else does. We want to cover football and baseball in Spanish for a Latin-American audience in a way that doesn't exist today," Har said.
The key to success for 90min is maintaining the same distinctive recipe that has attracted so many soccer fans from around the world to its website.
"After a match ESPN will typically just write the match report saying what happened with a few quotes from the players, and maybe the manager. To us that's a piece of content you can find anywhere," Har explained.
A typical 90min match report might include stats, player ratings, analysis and social media comments.
"We'll make it very social, so we'll embed player reactions from fans or players. So a match report would come out feeling like a more holistic and entertaining reaction to the match than just the traditional summary recap," Har said.
Much of the appeal is in the fact that many of 90min's writers are young, aspiring journalists who are fans of the teams and leagues they cover.
"The goal is to make content that is authentic and speaks to the fan, so our content creators are fans themselves, and who knows how to create better content than fans?" Har explained.
One of those fans is Ben Rebuck, who is among the writers working out of 90min's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel. He moved from the U.K. to Israel earlier this year. A sports journalist in his home country, he quickly connected with 90min's ethos.
"It's really exciting to be a part of, which is the opposite of the publication I worked for in the U.K., a traditional outlet in decline," Rebuck told From The Grapevine.
Part of the excitement comes courtesy of the video team in London, which creates catchy content befitting of an internet audience.
For example, 90min's YouTube channel boasts a mix of videos that range from educational to entertaining.
This range of content makes evident the type of social media-savvy fan the website is trying to attract – "fan" being the operative word and, really, the muse, according to Rebuck.
"We believe that fans want to hear what their fellow fans have to say, and not some expensive, big-name sports personality."
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