02 March 2010
About a year ago I offered Tas Melas and JE Skeets of The Basketball Jones my help in regards to working with advertisers and other possible business partners. They were gracious enough to allow the privilege of being involved and for a couple months I tried my best to connect them with potential advertisers, helped make them an official media kit, and did my best to generally educate them on the world of monetization of online media.
In the end Bloguin started taking up all my time and I was bummed that I couldn't see the project through to the end.
Today though I have a huge smile on my face (not literally because I got a bad cold right now), that those guys have finally have made taken this time consuming hobby to the next level and made it a full time thing for the whole gang.
For those who don't know TBJ, check out the video below
For years these two friends and former classmates would wake up at the crack of dawn and record a podcast about the NBA. But it wasn't just a podcast, it was clearly much more as the two really put attention, research, and at times perfection into every nuance of the show. After a couple years, they moved to video all the while building their audience along the way. The show was comical, the rappaport between the two was perfect, the production quality was high end, but most importantly the commentary was right on and very entertaining.
I met Skeets at Blogwold 2008 and started a full court press to get them to work with Yardbarker. This ended up being one of my most proud additions to the YBN. Still though, Yardbarker wasn't really focused on monetizing video content so when I found myself with some extra time on my hands, I tried my best to help the guys out mainly because I liked the show and thought they should be rewarded for their hard work. A part of me also knew they were somewhat of a barometer for the sports blogosphere.
Revision3 passed on them despite multiple inquiries from myself (cue, "I told you so" and "your loss"). Mainstream advertisers were interested but at the same time usually they like to work with major media companies and not independent outfits like TBJ. Their thinking is "If you have a big audience and are really popular and growing, then why don't you work with a larger company".
Its this type of thinking that makes Yardbarker's partnership with Fox, Yahoo's foray into sports blogging, Bleacher Reports's work with the pro leagues, and SB Nation's partnerships stand out as it is the first couple of steps of corporate buy in to the sports blogosphere.
What's amazing to me is that Skeets and Tas explored countless ways to further TBJ's potential and income with minimal success. Skeets had landed a dream position at Yahoo as the editor of Ball Don't Lie while Tas cobbled together an income through a myriad of sports journalism positions with The Score and Yardbarker among others. Their producer JD, had his hands full elsewhere and they were lucky enough to bring on an intern this season to help shoulder the load.
With years of not having a major break through, the team continued to wake up at the crack of dawn and pound out awesomeness for their large fan base. Yahoo and The Score both experimented and flirted with doing more with TBJ, but both never pulled the trigger on fully adopting the orphan show that was loved by tens of thousands.
That ended today, when The Score stepped up to the plate and announced The Basketball Jones crew will now be over at The Score.
This is very well deserved and as easy as it would be to say those goofballs up north got lucky, the truth is they worked longer on harder to make this happen than most people work on anything in their entire lives. It would have been easy to make the show weekly, a 5 minute show, or just give up entirely when someone passed on the show. Even easier, the duo could have settled into other roles as a nice compromise of doing something cool, but not 100% their dream in TBJ.
But the team preserved and got it done and I am proud and happy for them. Congrats guys! Below is their video talking about the new partnership and speaking about the times they could have given up on the show.
Skeets and Tas elude to improvements and more time to invest in the show. Glad to see Matt and JD coming along as well.
Curious to know if they technically sold The Basketball Jones to the Score or just partnered with The Score. I am guessing the ability to embed their podcasts will likely end, but hell that's a minor drawback to this big deal.
Another curious storyline unfolding is Y! Sports blogs, who I consider the best mainstream media blogging destination, losing another anchor blogger. Skeets' rationale for leaving is probably pretty easy to guess (more passion and loyalty to TBJ) but still this coupled with the fact that Eammon Brennan double dipped over at SB Nation before going to ESPN, potentially casts shadow over at Y! Sports blogs.
Not to say that Y! Sports blogs isn't awesome, but maybe the compensation for the lead writers is possibly not where it should be considering how successful of a venture its been thus far. Maybe I am reading in between the lines too much, but something to keep an eye on as other opportunities present themselves to those guys.
In closing, many congrats to the TBJ crew. Knock em dead over at The Score!
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